The rookie Kentville Wildcats junior team set out to show other teams in the Nova Scotia U21 Baseball League that they were there to play this weekend, and they succeeded.
After a 3-1 loss to Tri-County in their first game of the season May 22, the fifth inning mercy rule had to be used May 25 as Kentville rallied back to defeat the Cape Breton Ramblers 12-2 in the team's home opener at Memorial Park. Cape Breton came back for a 9-2 win in the second game of the double header.
Coach Lyle Boylen says the first game loss sent a message, however.
"Tri-County is the defending bronze medalists at nationals. We gave up three in the first inning, but after that, we were solid," Boylen said. "I think we're going to have a pretty good year here."
Player Dryden Schofield agreed.
"We didn't give up any runs after the first period - our offence was pretty overpowering," Schofield said. "Our goal this weekend was to send a message to everyone: we may be a first year team, but we're going to be competitive."
Even the May 22 loss was a strong message, Boylen added.
"I think we sent a message to Tri-County that they were lucky. We had one bad inning and after that, our pitching dominated. We're going to win our share of games this season," Boylen said.
The 12-2 victory in the May 25 home opener was a confidence booster for the team, Boylen said.
"Scoring 12 runs is nice any time, but it's definitely a confidence booster as well," he said.
Schofield agreed, adding, "Everybody stays positive, whether we're up or down. I don't know when the last time there was a junior team in Kentville, and Lyle did a great job with midget, so hopefully we'll have the same success."
Boylen, along with head coach Derek Atwater, took the midget team to nationals last summer. He's hoping for a repeat performance for the juniors.
"I'm not going to say when, but this team will make a trip to nationals before we're done here," he said.
Although few spectators braved the unseasonable temperatures and gray skies to take in the May 25 game, Boylen is hoping to see more people come out to support the team as the season progresses. The team will now have a series of games on the road - against Halifax June 4 and a double header against Hantsport June 7 - before their next game in Kentville June 8, where they'll play a double header against the Nova Scotia 17U team at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.