Lethbridge Bulls eye return to WCBL playoffs

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Lethbridge Bulls eye return to WCBL playoffs
The Lethbridge Bulls are preparing for their 2023 Western Canadian Baseball League season opener Friday night. Coming off a year that saw the team fail to qualify for playoffs, this year’s group believes it’s made the necessary offseason moves to handle the summer grind. Erik Bay has more – May 25, 2023

This year’s Lethbridge Bulls are stepping onto the diamond for the first time as a team on Thursday with high hopes for the season ahead.

“It feels great. I’m excited to be back,” said Texan pitcher Devin Benavides. “I love the weather here in Canada and can’t wait to start.”

The team wants to improve on last season’s disappointing result.

After winning a Western Canadian Baseball League title in the COVID-shortened 2021 season, the Bulls missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker last year.

Head Coach Chance Wheatley says health played a big role and the team addressed that in its recruiting.

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Latest book in ‘Lucy Tries Sports’ series highlights baseball

“We had a bunch of injuries last year and weren’t able to fill those holes on the mound,” Wheatley said. “That was our focus this summer and I think we did a good job.”

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One of those sidelined pitchers was Benavides, who’s back for a second season in Lethbridge. He’s part of what the team hopes is a deeper – and healthier – pitching staff that will play a big part in a postseason return.

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“They’re electric. I like all the guys here and can’t wait to start,” Benavides said.

The Bulls expect tough competition this summer.

The Edmonton Prospects are taking the year off, leaving ten clubs competing in the 2023 season.

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Baseball returns to Toronto with changes to game, Rogers Centre

Bulls general manager Kevin Kvame expects the league’s talent will be deeper.

“Every team’s going to be competitive, so I think you’re going to see a very good brand of baseball this year,” Kvame said. “All the teams have built pretty good rosters and it’s going to be a battle all year long.”

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The chase to get back into playoffs begins Friday at Spitz Stadium, the first half of a home-and-home with the Medicine Hat Mavericks and the Bulls are looking to set the right tone.

“Get off to a good start and just get on a roll,” Kvame said. “That’s what you want to do in this league and show that you’ve got the depth and stay competitive day-to-day on the field.”

Hopefully, showing enough of that compete to contend for a title.

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