Cranbrook Bandits Baseball is back for another year as the Senior and Junior squads split this weekend in preparation of the American Legion baseball season in the coming weeks.
Already playing four weeks of games and tournaments as a combined Cranbrook Bandits team, the players separated this past weekend as the Jr. team continued their exhibition schedule while the Sr. team prepares to open their American Legion Conference Schedule next weekend.
"Jr. team is up to 17 years old and the Sr. team is up to 19," explained Paul Mrazek, Head Coach of the Cranbrook Bandits. "We actually have a couple of 17-year-olds that are starting on the Sr. team. On the Jr. team, there's some 17-year-olds also, and they're going to dual roster and play up and down."
The Cranbrook Jr. Bandits went 2-2 against the Mission Valley Rockies and Clark Fork Cougars, split their games on Saturday and again on Sunday.
"They played quite strong which was great to see as they went out on their own, they didn't have any Sr. team players with them and they played one strong team and some older kids and they split with them so that was great to see."
Mrazek explained that the Jr. Bandits are a team focused on developing as many players as possible and to keep them playing baseball so they can eventually move up and be a part of the Sr. Bandits. In the last three years, Mrazek said they bolstered the strength of the entire Bandits program by have 23 to 28 kids play higher level baseball and compete against Montana's top teams in the American Legion.
Meanwhile, the Sr. Bandits took part in the Loggertown Wood Bat Classic in Libby, Montana as part of a pre-season tune-up this past weekend. The Bandits went a perfect 3-0, defeating the Montana Renegades 9-4, the Mission Valley Mariners B 2-1, and the Calgary Cubs 14-3.
"The Sr. team went out and we played well, pitched well, played well defensively - that's what we're really focusing on - and we won three straight in Libby."
The Cranbrook Sr. Bandits officially open the American Legion season on May 25th and May 26th with a pair of doubleheaders against the Libby Loggers and Clark Fork Cougars.
On top of the start of the American Legion season, the Bandits will be holding their 3rd annual Alumni Game at 1:00 pm on Saturday, June 2nd at Cranbrook's Confederation Park, while also holding their 2nd annual Bandits Alumni Golf Tournament on Friday, June 1st.
This upcoming weekend, the Sr. Bandits are off to Kalispell for the Canadian Days Tournament and their final pre-season action. The Bandits will take on the Mission Valley Mariners A, Shadle Park, Kalispell Lakers A, and Olds Spitfires at the tournament.
Back in Cranbrook, the Jr. Bandits will have a doubleheader against the Bitterroot Redsox both Saturday and Sunday afternoon at Confederation Park.
Audio: Paul Mrazek, Cranbrook Bandits Head Coach