Tribe open season tonight

Steven Mah
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Swift Current Indians

The Swift Current Indians will end months of waiting when they open the Western Major Baseball League regular season on the road Friday against the Saskatoon Yellow Jackets. They will visit the Moose Jaw Miller Express on Saturday before hosting the Edmonton Prospects in their home opener at Mitchell Field on Sunday at 7:05 p.m.

The Tribe will host the Prospects again Monday before visiting Saskatoon Tuesday to close out a stretch of five games in as many days to open the season.

Coach Joe Carnahan has been working tirelessly on the recruiting trail since the Indians were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round last summer after winning the Central Division with a 28-18 record.

“That’s a lot of time and it is a long winter,” said Carnahan. “We start recruiting about a day after we were knocked out of the playoffs. The roster changes quite a bit over the course of the fall, winter, and spring. The way things have panned out this year we have a pretty good roster coming in. Now it is just a matter of getting the guys to gel and staying healthy and then the rest of it should take care of itself.”

Carnahan said that they maybe have one more guy to replace as the season opener draws near. Further complicating the roster is the Major League Baseball Draft on June 6-8.

“We have a couple guys that will probably go in that so that might shake things up too. But we have a really good core group of guys and I feel that we have a lot of versatility this year.”

With 46 games over 62 days, depth and quality on the pitching staff is always a concern in the WMBL.

“Yeah we have a lot of guys who have put in quality innings at school and have been successful at school over a multi-year period of time too. It is nice when you get a bunch of juniors and seniors up here who have done it for two or three years at school. The odds are they are probably going to end up doing it again up here for us.”

The Indians’ roster includes six local players this season.

“We have a good core of local guys. We have T-Mac [Taylor MacDonell], he is going to be in his last year this year. The rest of the five guys they still have a couple more years left. We have three new guys this year, so for them to be able to get their feet wet and kind of see what this league is all about, practicing, and getting in games, it is going to be a little bit of an adjustment as far as speed and all that stuff. We have a good core group of guys and guys that are going to help us for years to come.”

The Tribe’s local players arrived in town last week. Other players began flying in on May 25th and will continue to fly in until early in June.

“We have quite a few guys still playing in school competing in the World Series at whichever level they are at,” explained Carnahan. “We wish them well there and hopefully they win a championship there and then they can help us win a championship up here as well.”

One of the import players who arrived last week was third baseman Daniel Clifford.

Clifford will continue a long line of George Fox University Bruins who have suited up for the Tribe over the years.

“They kind of let me know how fun it was and stuff. I only really had two other options. I guess just leaving the country and coming to Canada intrigued me,” said Clifford after practice on Sunday.

The Canby, Oregon native hit .372 for the Bruins last season with a .465 on-base percentage. He posted 29 runs batted in, 13 doubles, two homeruns, and 26 runs scored in 32 games.

He said he is looking to have a solid summer with the Tribe. “I know some people will take summer as kind of not taking it as serious. I just want to keep getting better, just put in a solid summer and don’t take days off or anything like that.”

The Bruins finished second in the conference this season to Linfield University, who featured Indians veteran pitcher Chris Haddeland.

“Hopefully this summer helps for next year and maybe winning conference next year,” he added.

He is quickly getting used to his new surroundings.

“It is flat up here,” he laughed. “Coming in on the airplane I was like ‘wow it is flat.’ The field is nice, the field plays good. It seems fun. Everybody is pretty friendly so it seems good.”

“The guys are good. Just good’ol baseball guys out here that work hard and play,” he said of his initial impressions of his new teammates.

Organizations: Western Major Baseball League, Moose Jaw Miller Express, Major League Baseball Draft Bruins George Fox University Bruins Linfield University

Geographic location: Swift Current, Saskatoon, Canada Canby, Oregon

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