The U18 AAA Pembina Hills baseball team is off to an impressive start to the 2022 season.
Despite having a lot of turnover from last year's squad that made the finals, the team has still begun the year with a 4-3 record. Head coach Chance Bitzer says they've gotten better every game which is all you can ask for.
"We have a lot of depth. All 13 guys can play and sometimes it's tough making a lineup but that's a good issue to have," Bitzer explains. "We have a lot of guys that are willing to do whatever they need to. Two of our guys are playing positions they haven't played before and there are no complaints, they're open to do whatever."
He says the team's familiarity with one another has definitely helped speed up their process, as six of the 13 players were members of Portage Collegiate's baseball team this season as well.
The U18 Pembina Hills program captured the league championship in 2020 and was one game away from doing so again last season, however, Bitzer was not yet under the helm. Despite, this being his first season as the head coach, the program is still looking as strong as ever.
"I love it. You get the older kids who already have a good foundation. They're getting to an age where I like to put more ownership in their hands. I like to give them free rein," Bitzer continues. "We have some guidelines we like to follow but if you ask them, I'm sure they'd say I don't have a ton of structure. As long as they're working hard, trying to make every play they can, I'll let them do whatever they're comfortable with."
Bitzer adds with each game, he's noticed the team getting more and more comfortable trusting their own instincts. He says this type of approach allows the kids to play baseball and not overthink as much on the field.
The coach says his only goal for the rest of the season is for the improvement to keep moving steadily.
"If we can keep getting better every weekend, then the end of the year will take care of itself," says Bitzer. "To be honest, I don't know if any of us really knew what to expect coming into the season. I know they had a great team last year where a lot of kids moved on but I think things have been heading in the right direction. We're just going to try to take care of the moment that we're in."
Pembina Hills now has just four games to go in the regular season.