02/13/2020 12:55 PM
The Prairie Baseball Academy had the honour of introducing the first six inductees into our newly created PBA Hall of Fame on February 1st. It was truly a special night, celebrating twenty-five years as a program and celebrating the people who made this dream a reality. The support from our alumni leading up to the banquet was tremendous and it was great to see some guys who had not made a trip to Lethbridge in quite some time. Our goal is to continue to engage our alumni and keep them involved in growing the Academy. The banquet weekend was also a chance for our current players to see what was involved in getting this program to where it is today. The sacrifices, time and money that went into starting and maintaining a program of this magnitude is truly staggering. Lastly, we at the Prairie Baseball Academy would like to thank everyone who attended and/or donated something for the event. Our banquet is one of our largest fundraisers and the support from our PBA Family was outstanding, like always! With the banquet behind us it is now time to start looking forward to the 2020 baseball season!
The 2019 PBA Varsity team, unfortunately did not live up to the standards we have placed upon ourselves as a program. The Varsity team never seemed to find their groove, and a frustrating pre-season schedule snowballed into a frustrating CCBC season. The program will look to rebound in 2020 as the Canadian College World Series (CCWS) will be hosted in Lethbridge for the first time since 2015. It has now been two years since PBA won the final game of the season, after winning the CCBC Championship seven straight years from 2011-2017.
Coach Hubka is looking forward to getting on the road for the first games of the year, and he had this to say about the 2020 squad.
“We have been quite lucky with the weather so far this year. The Varsity team has practiced outside close to a dozen times and things are starting to come together. I believe that for this team to be successful in 2020, it all starts on the mound. Our starters need to give us some solid innings and keep the ball in the strike zone. I believe our defense will be as athletic as we’ve been in quite a few years. If our pitchers can limit the free passes and keep the ball in play I think we will be in a lot of ball games early in the season. As far as offense goes we have some serious speed at the top of our order this year. If those guys can get on base and put some pressure on the opposing pitching staff I think it should free up some of our big bats in the middle of the order to drive them in. We know that the opening trip is always tough. I’m looking forward to seeing how these guys compete down south, and hopefully we can come away with a few wins.”
To see the entire 2020 PBA Varsity Schedule please click HERE.
We would like to highlight some individuals who will be key components on the 2020 Varsity team. On the offensive side we have:
Mark Chappelle - Chappelle will hold down the CF position for Coach Hubka this spring. Chapelle came to PBA from Fort McMurray, AB where he competed for the Giants in the WCBL last summer. Chappelle will likely hit either one or two in the batting order with his excellent speed. The offense will need Mark to be a high on base guy and swipe a dozen or more bags for PBA to be successful this season. Also look for Chappelle running down balls in CF this spring.
Ryan Gaab - Gaab a 1B/DH out of Weyburn, SK returns for his second year with the Varsity program after a good summer with the Weyburn Beavers in the WCBL. Gaab will hit somewhere in the middle of Coach Hubka’s batting order and will be tasked with driving in a lot of runs. Gaab has plus power from the left side of the plate and will be a key player in the lineup whether at 1B or DH this spring.
Willy Diaz - Diaz is in his first year in the program and is originally from the Dominican Republic. Diaz brings incredible athleticism to the field each and every day. He is one of the fastest players we’ve ever had in our program. If he can stay consistent at the plate and take care of the ball in the infield, look for Diaz to be a real impact player for the Varsity team this spring.
Jaydon Gartner - Gartner will be a true utility player for Coach Hubka in 2020. Gartner also in his first year with the program has already spent time in the outfield, both corner infield spots and on the mound in his short time at PBA. Originally from Lloydminster, AB, Gartner is a big kid, with a ton of potential both at the plate and on the mound. Look for Gartner to be a key bat in the middle of the lineup this spring.
On the pitching side, Coach Hubka will also have a good mix of freshman and sophomores. The key especially early on in the season is throwing strikes and hitting bats. All pitch counts will be monitored closely on the opening trip, so efficiency will be key. Here is a breakdown of some of the top pitchers on the staff this spring:
Kyle Poapst - Kyle will likely get the ball on opening day as he returns for another year with the Varsity program. Kyle has a huge frame and continues to mature as a pitcher. Arm strength and “stuff” have always been outstanding, if Kyle can stay efficient and force more weak contact this season he will surely keep PBA in a lot of ball games while on the mound. Kyle is the leader on our staff and will be tasked with teaching our younger pitchers what college baseball and pitching are all about.
Cal Tecklenburg - Cal is back for his second year with the Varsity program in 2020. Tecklenburg played for the Lethbridge Bulls in the summer of 2019, and will look to lead a PBA pitching staff who struggled at times last season. Tecklenburg is a strike-thrower with good secondary stuff, he is also a guy who brings a ton of energy each and every game. It will be exciting to see how Cal develops this season as a starter for Coach Hubka.
Jake Anderson - Jake graduated from our Junior Varsity program and flourished in the WCBL last summer. Anderson was named an all-star pitcher for the Yorkton Cardinals and will look to be a quality starter for Varsity this spring. Jake is a bulldog on the mound and will compete his butt off every single outing. Jake throws three pitches for strikes and has continued to learn and develop his craft. It will be exciting to see Jake’s continued progression with the Varsity team this spring.
Jordan Calibaba - Jordan comes to us from Kamloops, BC and is in his first year with the program. Calibaba has one of the quickest arms we’ve had in the program in some time, and has improved tremendously since the first day of the fall. Jordan is learning what it takes to be a college baseball player, and will be needed for those high leverage situations this spring. There is plenty more room for improvement with Jordan and it will be exciting to watch him develop during the 2020 season.
If you would like to see the entire 2020 Varsity roster please click HERE.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. As always, if you have any questions about the Prairie Baseball Academy please do not hesitate to contact us at 403-320-1302 or firstname.lastname@example.org
GOOD LUCK BOYS!