The Halifax Pelham Molson Canadians have picked up right where they left off at the end of last summer.
The Canadians, who emerged from years of mediocrity last September by winning their first Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League crown since 1992, have already clinched a playoff spot and are atop the circuit with an 11-4 record.
With their strong start, the Canadians have served notice that last year’s surprising title win was no fluke.
“About four years ago, when the nucleus of this team was starting to mature, I said if that team stayed together, they were going to be the best team in the league,” said long-time coach Cecil Wright. “Luckily, that’s been proven correct.”
Canadians veterans Adam Lucas and Jay Turple are both batting .400, while Ryan Veinot and newcomer Brandon Hunter are also among the league’s top-10 hitters.
A stellar pitching staff, buoyed by Barrett Bellefontaine (4-0, 31 strikeouts), Steve Ivey (3-0, 27 strikeouts, 1.04 ERA) and Mark Haverstock (2-1, 2.14 ERA), has also been key.
Halifax’s progress hasn’t gone unnoticed by the rest of the league, particularly veteran powerhouse Dartmouth Moosehead Dry, winners of 14 of 18 titles before last summer.
“They’re a young team, a talented team, they have no fear, and they remind me of a young Moosehead Dry team years and years ago,” said longtime Dry slugger Darren Doucette.
Turns out, that’s no coincidence.
“That’s probably the highest compliment we could receive,” Wright said. “We put this team together with the Dry in mind, how they built the team years and years ago.
“Those guys stuck together through thick and thin, getting timely hits and dominating with good pitching.”
If the Canadians want to truly establish themselves as Nova Scotia’s team to beat, they’ll have a golden opportunity in about a month when the city hosts the nationals. Wright figures his squad has the talent to pull it off — with one catch.
“We just have to stay healthy,” he said.