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Moose Jaw’s Helland signs with NAIA MidAmerica Nazarene

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Moose Jaw product Reece Helland  to join the highly ranked MidAmerica Nazarene University Pioneers after playing for

By Randy Palmer
Moose Jaw Today

Moose Jaw baseball product Reece Helland is moving on up.

Helland, 20, officially signed with the MidAmerica Nazarene Pioneers on Mar. 26 and will be transferring to the powerhouse NAIA squad in Olathe, Kansas this fall.

It’s the latest step in what has been a rapid rise through the ranks for the up-and-coming pitcher, who will play his second season this spring for Monterey Peninsula in the California Community College Athletic Association.

Just how rapid?

Helland only started pitching at the college level last spring, but was so dominant right off the hop that interest quickly built.

“MidAmerica Nazarene University reached out to my coach looking for a pitcher and he gave him my number, we’ve been talking for a couple months and they gave me an offer about a month and a half ago,” Helland said from Monterey, Cal. in describing how he ended up with his new school. “I told them I’d like to come down and visit the campus, so I spent a couple days down there to check it out and it was really nice… The coaching staff is really good, the team is really good, their facilities are awesome and it’s tough to say no to a school like that for sure.”

MidAmerica Nazarene isn’t your run-of-the-mill NAIA school, either. They regularly contend for the Heart of America Athletic Conference championship, and went into play this past weekend as the 25th-ranked NAIA team in the nation.

“I’d never heard of them before until they talked to me, but hearing about what kind of a program they have and getting to meet the guys and watching them play, it was really exciting and I’m looking forward to being part of their team,” Helland said.
Of course, there’s still some unfinished business to attend to.

Monterey Peninsula opens their season on Apr. 10 against Hartnell College, and Helland is expected to once again serve as the team’s closer.

He saw action in five games during the pandemic-shortened season in 2020, holding teams without a run in 10 ⅔ innings while allowing five hits, striking out 15 and walking only three. That kind of performance this spring will only help what’s shaping up to be a solid team — and one with high expectations for Helland.

“When I’m on the mound, I don’t think there’s any time where I don’t feel I can dominate hitters,” he said. “It’s a mindset that our pitching coach (Vince Herring) has locked into our minds right from the beginning. He’s probably one of the best coaches I’ve been around pitching-wise, and he’s really changed the mental side of the game and pitching, for sure.”

Helland was expecting a busy summer of baseball as well, having planned to return to the Moose Jaw Miller Express for their Western Canadian Baseball League season, but the cancellation of his hometown team’s campaign last week did away with that.

That’s not to say he won’t be on the mound at Ross Wells Park. Helland plans to once again suit up in the Qu’Appelle Valley League with the Moose Jaw Padres, where he played last season once the WCBL campaign was shut down.

“It was really fun, I got to play with all my buddies from high school and got to play on the Padres with the older guys, kind of get a little more competitive men’s league ball to keep me in shape,” Helland said.

“It took me awhile to get back into it being off baseball for three months, but it was a lot of fun, that was the most important aspect. Just being around a team instead of just sitting at home all day by yourself.”

Still, not having a chance to play ultra-competitive summer baseball against top college players from all over Canada and the U.S. is disappointing.

“I was actually really looking forward to getting back up there and playing for the Millers,” Helland said. “It’s really nice playing for a hometown crowd, it’s a real treat for me, especially having friends and family there. It’s almost like a celebrity status, because you see people outside the park and they’re like ‘oh I know you, you play for the Millers’ and it’s like ‘yeah, that is me, it’s cool, nice you recognize me’… Moose Jaw is a really great place to play in the summer.”

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Baseball Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan’s Pothakos leads Greece into A pool of European Baseball Championship

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Saskatoon’s Rye Pothakos earned his first tournament championship as manager of the Greek National Baseball team.

Pame Elladara!!!!! The Greeks did it! Hellas defeated host Lithuania 8-4 in the championship game to win the WBSC Utena Qualifier to punch their ticket back into Europe’s top level of baseball, the European Championship A Pool. Russia, Ukraine and Slovakia also punched their tickets in the other 3 B-Pool qualifiers.

Hellas went 3-1 on the week defeated Poland and Romania by a combined scored of 21-0. Entering Friday’s game vs Lithuania, Hellas and Lithuania had already clinched a spot in Saturday’s championship game, so both teams entered it playing for home field advantage in the title game. Lithuania scored 6 unearned runs off 5 Greek errors to win 9-7 Friday night. Saturday Greece was in control all game eventually holding an 8-0 lead in the 7th inning before securing the win 8-4. Dimitri Kourtis was the winning pitcher with 6 shutout innings along with 8 strikeouts. John Kountis earned the save after pitching the final 3 innings allowing 1 earned run.

Greece claimed all 3 post-tournament honors as Thomas Roulis (Best Hitter), Dimitri Kourtis (MVP) and John Kountis (Best Pitcher) all took home their respective awards.

Hellas is now preparing for the European Championship in Torino, Italy Sept 12-19 2021. Hellas is in Group A with host Italy, Austria and Belgium (see below). This is the first time Greece has been in A pool since 2016 Honkball Championship in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Since 2016, Hellas has played in four different tournaments (Belgrade, Dublin, Bulgaria, Utena) fighting their way back into Europe’s top level, a tremendous honor. Rye Pothakos earned his first tournament championship as manager.

For all information, please follow us on Twitter and Instagram @GreekBaseball.

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Baseball Saskatchewan

Youth Baseball Set to begin again May 30 in Saskatchewan

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The Government of Saskatchewan has announced that public health measures around outdoor sporting activities, including baseball, will be eased as part of Step One of the Re-Opening Roadmap, set to commence on Sunday, May 30, 2021. Outdoor sports, originally included in Step Two of the Re-Opening Roadmap, will now be added to Step One. Easing of measures for indoor sports remains in Step Two of the Re-Opening Roadmap.

The adjustment to the Re-Opening Roadmap is being made recognizing the lowered risk of transmission in outdoor settings along with the successful uptake in Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 vaccination effort in reducing the transmission of the virus. Beginning May 30, 2021, competition and game play for outdoor team sports can proceed with a number of requirements, such as:

• Participants may not compete if they are feeling unwell.
• Players and coaches should be encouraged to screen for COVID-19 symptoms prior to arriving to practice and play, using the self-assessment tool on the government’s website.
• No interprovincial travel. Teams competing in regional interprovincial leagues need to contact the Business Response Team prior to beginning play.
• Individual and protective equipment should not be shared. When helmets and bats or other equipment are shared, cleaning and disinfecting must occur between each use.
• Commonly touched equipment used for game play (e.g. game ball, football) is routinely replaced or disinfected during the course of practice or play.
• Coaches, officials, umpires, referees and players who are not on the field are not required to wear masks outdoors under the public health order. However, masks may be worn if they are more comfortable with that layer of protection.
• No shaking hands, high-fives, etc.
• Hand sanitizer approved by Health Canada (DIN or NPN) or soap and water handwashing stations should be available for participants and spectators.
• No sharing of water bottles.
• Public washrooms, when available, are cleaned and disinfected regularly, and soap and water or hand sanitizer is available.
• Contact information of the coaches, officials and players should be recorded by the home team and maintained in order to assist with contact tracing for 30 days in the case of a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Unlike recent announcements in British Columbia, spectators (up to 150) will be allowed at the games, as long as they are following social distancing protocols with their “bubbles”, with masks optional for all.

Baseball Saskatchewan Executive Director Mike Ramage, in a recent interview with CKRM radio, said if the delay lasted any longer the results could have been catastrophic, especially when it came to their rural members.

“The fact that they opened it up to start this Sunday, (May 30) probably saved Baseball Sask about 60 percent of our membership base,” Ramage said. “Last year, once the long delay was there until July 1, we lost about 60 percent of the rural base, based on the fact that they are usually done by the end of June,” he added.

Ramage said those leagues are done around Canada Day to give the opportunity for family time during the summer months.

“Once July 1 hits they’re gone, they don’t play anymore ball because they’re gone to the cabin with their parents, and on other holidays, most minor ball is done by that point.” “So with the fact that we can start playing games on May 30, it gives these kids at least a month to practice play games, we’re over the moon about that,” Ramage added.

Full details on the Baseball Sask re-opening protocols may be downloaded from their web page HERE.

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Baseball Saskatchewan

Baseball Saskatchewan hopes for earlier return to play in 2021

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Regina, SK – After successfully playing games in 2020 under strict protocols, Baseball Saskatchewan is hoping to do the same in 2021, but is hoping for an earlier return to play date this year.

In a recent interview with Global News, Baseball Sask’s executive director, Mike Ramage said he is looking for the green light to start playing ball sooner than the third week of June, which is the timeframe that the province has set for allowing sports to return in full swing.

Ramage cites the safe and successful return to play that was executed in 2020, as a main reason for their hope to begin earlier in 2021.  “We’ve shown that we can get the games played. We can do it in a safe manner with sanitization and social distancing as we’re a non-contact sport. It’s a little easier that way for us.”

“We’ve got the roadmap from last year anyway, so we know how to do this again this year. We just hope we can kind of get it going a little sooner than we did last year.”

The province has lumped all sports in to that end of June start date, but with baseball being an outdoor sport, with no contact, or very little contact, and one that has social distancing easily built in, Baseball Sask is hoping too that those factors will allow for an earlier start date.

In addition to their successful and safe play in 2020, Baseball Sask has prepared a comprehensive set of return to play guidelines for the 2021 season and has that readily available on their website for all organizations and individuals to download and follow.

 

 

 

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