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Jim Baba set to retire as Baseball Canada’s Executive Director

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OTTAWA – After 21 years as Baseball Canada’s Executive Director, Jim Baba will be retiring from the post he’s held for over two decades later this year.

The Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan native has been involved with Baseball Canada dating back to 1990 when he was a guest coach with the men’s national team which evolved into stints as head coach of the program from 1993-1998 and again in 2003 and 2005.

In 2000, Baba left his native Saskatchewan and his post as Executive Director with Baseball Saskatchewan for the nation’s capital and the role of Manager, Baseball Operations with Baseball Canada. Shortly thereafter, he transitioned to the role of Executive Director where he has overseen the federation’s Ottawa office operations for the last 21 years.

“When you think of Baseball Canada a select few names come to mind and Jim Baba is definitely one of them,” said Baseball Canada President Jason Dickson. “The impact he has had on baseball in Canada from his role as Executive Director has been immeasurable across all areas of our sport.”

During Baba’s tenure, Baseball Canada has achieved unparalleled success at the National Teams level in qualifying for a pair of Olympic Games (2004, 2008), the implementation of the Women’s National Team program in 2004 that sits today as the No. 2 ranked program in the world, winning back-to-back Pan Am Games gold medals (2011, 2015) for the men’s national team program and witnessing the growth of a Junior National Team program that is renowned as one of the best of its kind in the world.

On the grassroots side, Baseball Canada has introduced successful programs Rally Cap and Winterball for initiation players and coaches over Baba’s watch that are now widely popular throughout the country.

Baseball Canada’s National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) has experienced tremendous growth over the last 20 years both in terms of the number of certified baseball coaches across the country and the way in which we register, track and deliver coach education.

Baba was one of the main players in Baseball Canada adopting Challenger Baseball for athletes with physical and cognitive disabilities in 2012 and seeing the program’s growth to today where a partnership between Baseball Canada, Little League Canada and Jays Care Foundation delivers programming to hundreds of Canadians each year.

Not only has Baba’s impact on baseball been felt across Canada but his reach extends globally through his work with the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC). A key figure with the international federation’s Technical Commissioners Team, Baba has instructed at “TC” clinics throughout the world and has been Technical Director at numerous Baseball World Cups, the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, both Premier12 events and is scheduled to serve as Technical Director for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

“It’s incredible to look at everything that Jim has played a role in during his time as Executive Director,” added Dickson. “The organization is in a tremendous place right now and we have him to thank for that.

“The respect that Jim Baba has in the Canadian baseball community and throughout the world is fully deserved and a testament to Jim as a person and how he’s conducted himself throughout his career with class and dignity.”

Baba is also a cherished member of both the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame and the Moose Jaw Sports Hall of Fame.

A search for his replacement will commence in the near future with Baba transitioning into retirement by the end of the calendar year.

Baseball Canada Championships

Baseball Canada announces roster for 18U Friendship Series

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AJAX, ON – Baseball Canada is pleased to announce the names of 30 athletes selected to represent Canada in a seven-game Friendship Series against the United States’ 18U National Team in Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Bradenton, Florida from September 3-9.

The roster was selected following Junior National Team Training Camp held at the Ajax Sportsplex in Ajax, Ontario from August 18 – September 2 where 38 athletes participated in daily practices and intrasquad games.

With the postponement of 2021 WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Sarasota/Bradenton, Florida to 2022, the Friendship Series will be used as a final event for the 2003 age group with the start of the next Junior National Team program cycle (2021/2022) beginning with the Fall Instructional League Camp in Florida this October.

“We’re extremely fortunate to be able to provide our players with an international baseball experience given the difficulties of running our program over the last 18 months,” said Junior National Team Head Coach and Director of Men’s National Teams Greg Hamilton. “Our players will be challenged against a formidable opponent in the United States, and we look forward to the opportunity of competing and representing Canada down in Florida.”

The first three games of the series will take place at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, the spring training home of the Baltimore Orioles, from September 3rd to 5th before moving to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, on September 4th. The series will shift to Bradenton and the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, LECOM Park, for games on September 7th and 9th with a game at Pirate City in between on September 8th.

FULL SCHEDULE

Junior National Team Head Coach and Director of Men’s National Teams Greg Hamilton will lead a coaching staff that includes three former national team players in Cole Armstrong, Mike Johnson and Pete Orr.

All games of the Friendship Series will be streamed on USA Baseball’s Facebook Page.

Stay up to date on the Friendship Series by following @BaseballCANJNT on Twitter.

2021 Junior National Team Roster:
(Name; Hometown, Position)

Liam Adamson; London, ON; RHP

Micah Bucknam; Abbotsford, BC; RHP

Parker Burgess; Douro-Dummer, ON; RHP

Caleb Clark; Orillia, ON; LHP

Cameron Chee-Aloy; Toronto, ON; OF

Colin Cymbalista; Pickering, ON; C

Louka Daoust; Repentigny, QC; INF

Ty Doucette; Dartmouth, NS; 1B

Matthew Grabmann; Dartmouth, NS; RHP

Alexis Gravel; Repentigny, QC; OF/LHP

Cameron Gurney; Scotland, ON; C

Tyrus Hall; Victoria, BC; INF

Ty Hamilton; Orleans, ON; OF/LHP

Max Hartman; St. Albert, AB; OF

Carson Hindmarsh; Saskatoon, SK; LHP

Joshua Jones; Blainville, QC; OF

Chase Marshall; Surrey, BC; RHP

Anson McGorman; Parksville, BC; RHP

Owen Millar; Burlington, ON; RHP

Jacob Miller; Oshawa, ON; C/OF

Myles Naylor; Mississauga, ON; 3B/SS

Nate Ochoa Leyva; Burlington, ON; 3B/SS

Jérémy Pilon; Valleyfield, QC; LHP

Turner Spoljaric; Lisle, ON; RHP

Reece Usselman; Langley, BC; LHP

Robin Villeneuve; Gatineau, QC; 1B/LHP

Boston Warkentin; Delta, BC; RHP

Sam White; Aurora, ON; 3B/1B

Jordan Woods; Oakville, ON; LHP

Jacob Zibin; Langley, BC; RHP/3B

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Baseball BC

Abbotsford’s Raine Padgham invited to Baseball Canada showcase

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Abbotsford’s Raine Padgham is attending the Baseball Canada’s Women’s National Team Showcase in Quebec in August. (Submitted)

Pink-haired pitching phenom attending women’s national team showcase in Quebec in August

By Ben Lypka – The Abbotsford News

July 30, 2021 – Abbotsford’s Raine Padgham has received an invite to Baseball Canada’s Women’s National Team Showcase.

The event is set for Aug. 8 to 13 in Trois Rivieres, Que., and is the first in-person event for the team in two years.

Padgham is one of 41 athletes invited to the six-day camp that will see participants partake in physical testing, baseball-specific testing using the latest in technology, daily practices and inter-squad games at Stade Quillorama, the home of the Frontier League’s Trois-Rivières Aigles.

She is one of nine 16-year-olds and two 15-year-olds attending the showcase. She is listed as a pitcher/infielder on the player invite list.

The News first reported on the Abbotsford Senior Secondary student back in 2017, when she made headlines by becoming the first-ever player to suit up for both a boys’ and girls’ team at the Western Canadian Baseball Championships.

In the years following, she attended the Trailblazer Series in California presented by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball. She also participated at the 10th annual Girls Baseball Development Camp put on by the Team Canada women’s national team in February.

After that camp, Padgham earned a spot on the Team Canada prospect team at the Senior Women’s Invitational Championships hosted by Baseball Canada. She also received an invite to the 2019 Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series in Florida. That camp was for girls aged 14 to 18, and was hosted by MLB and USA Baseball.

Padgham then went on to be the first-ever girl to play on the Abbotsford Cardinals of the British Columbia Premier Baseball League. She continues to be involved with the Cardinals today.

In 2020, she turned heads at the Baseball B.C. High Performance Camp by tossing a fastball at an impressive 83 miles per hour. That pitch was likely the fastest ever baseball throw by a female and by a girl at the age of 15.

Her efforts in 2020 saw her named to the Canadian Baseball Network’s Most Influential Canadians in Baseball list.

Padgham also plans to play women’s rugby, women’s volleyball and senior football with the Abbotsford Panthers during the school year.

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Baseball Alberta

Red Deer’s Hayley Lalor invited to Baseball Canada’s WNT showcase

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Red Deer’s Hayley Lalor (middle) has been invited to the Baseball Canada’s Women’s National Team showcase later this month in Quebec. (Photo courtesy of Baseball Canada)

By Byron Hackett
Red Deer Advocate

August 3, 2021 – Red Deer’s Hayley Lalor is set to compete with the top female baseball players across the country.

Lalor, 21, was one of 41 players invited to participate in a six-day showcase camp in Trois-Rivières, Québec from Aug. 8 to 13. The camp will feature daily practices and inter-squad games.

“Mostly looking forward to getting to play a bunch of games and be out there with a lot of the girls that I’ve played with before who are my friends. Just a chance to get to do something that we haven’t got to do in quite a while,” Lalor said.

It will be the second national team camp for Lalor — she earned an invite in 2019, after helping Alberta to bronze in the 2019 Women’s Baseball Invitational Championships in Okotoks.

Lalor hasn’t been able to play much baseball over the last two summers because of the COVID-19 pandemic but has been putting in work on the field this season with her dad Dwayne and her sister Kelsey.

“I haven’t been playing with a team because our women’s team, with the circumstances all over the province we weren’t able to have a team. I’ve been out with my sister and my dad, we’ve been practicing a lot,” said Lalor, who figures to play outfield at Canada’s camp.

Hayley’s sister Kelsey, also an outfielder, was an all-star for Canada at the 2019 Women’s Baseball World Cup.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused the 2020 WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup to be postponed and it’s still undetermined when it will be played. Canada won a bronze medal at the last World Cup event in 2018 and came in at third in the latest WBSC Women’s Baseball World Rankings.

The national team camp at the very least is a chance for Canada’s best women to get on the baseball field again.

“We’re thrilled to be in a position where we can have athletes participate in-person, in team and individual baseball activities,” said Women’s National Team program director André Lachance.

“Like the rest of the world, the past year and a half has been a challenge for our program so having this showcase camp is something that we feel fortunate for, and we intend on taking advantage of our time together.”

In the fall, Hayley will enter her fourth year at MacEwan University and play her third season with the Griffins women’s basketball team.

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