The Red Deer Riggers machine is running as smooth as one could imagine as they roll through the Sunburst Baseball League.
The Riggers top the standings with an 11-1 record, losing their first game last week to the Sherwood Park A’s, their main rival.
“We’ve played every team in the league twice and it’s been going good,” said player/manager Jason Chatwood. “Our offence has been very good, our pitching has been good. We’re really, really solid right now and we don’t make a lot of mistakes.”
He says one player will feed off another and the good, solid fundamental play is contagious. The Riggers seem to be doing all the little things right in order to win ball games.
“Everyone is kind of in and everyone is having success.”
Chatwood is quick to add it’s not just the starting nine each night who are getting it done. Anyone wearing a Riggers uniform is contributing to the run they are on.
If there is one aspect of the game which stands out it would be the offence, said Chatwood.
“From top to bottom our lineup is very balanced. We’re not having to rely on one or two guys.”
The weather has also helped out the Riggers in the area of the pitching staff. The team has had a few rainout dates translating into double headers but instead of putting them at a disadvantage the pitching staff has flourished.
“We’ve been kind of only going a maximum of three or four innings just to try and get as many guys some innings. There have been games when guys went two or three innings and we have three or four guys pitch and they’ve all been solid,” he said.
He says normally you might pitch a guy seven innings and then two or three guys are sitting for ten days without getting on the mound. Mother Nature has helped out.
Another angle to the Riggers success can be summed up in one word-fun.
“We’ve got such a good group of guys and I’ve noticed we’re consistently getting almost the entire lineup to every game.” It’s something which is quite difficult in a senior baseball circuit as players have work and family commitments keeping them from the park.
Chatwood says the new additions at the start of the season have added plenty of depth throughout the lineup and the chemistry seems to have taken hold from the first pitch.
“Guys aren’t worried about themselves. It’s just any way they can help the team win,” he said about the Riggers team first attitude.
He says moving forward the thought process is understanding you might not be your best every game but that’s when players need to dig deeper and find a way to contribute to give the team a chance to win.
The rookie manager says he is getting plenty of support in his first year at the helm from Joel Peterman, Lowell Peterman and Dustin Northcott.
“They’ve been huge. Once the game starts I’ve just worried about playing and we have a lot of trust with our guys and everyone knows what their roles are and guys are ready as soon as they get call upon.”
Under the senior baseball format it’s the previous year’s winner who goes to Nationals so this year It will be Sherwood Park who beat the Riggers in the 2015 final. Chatwood says that serves as more motivation for his team.
“A lot of the guys are looking at giving us the best opportunity to represent the province next year. I know that’s a goal of everybody’s. I think that kind of helps guys stay motivated and show up to every game to push for that end goal.”