Canada Games hope­fuls

Ste­wart Brazil, Bradley Riggs aim­ing for a spot on pro­vin­cial team

The Compass - - ORTHTE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

The 2013 Canada Sum­mer Games are just un­der a year away and two lo­cal ball play­ers are deep into the se­lec­tion process to rep­re­sent New­found­land and Labrador in Sher­brooke, Quebec Aug. 2-17.

Bradley Riggs and Ste­wart Brazil, both prod­ucts of the Con­cep­tion Bay North base­ball pro­gram and play on the pro­gram’s midget team, are two of 35 play­ers vy­ing for a spot on the club led by three prom­i­nent pro­vin­cial base­ball fig­ures — Sean Gul­liver, Frank Hum­ber and Mark Healey.

“It’s eas­ier to go through it when know­ing some­one,” said Riggs on go­ing through the process with a team­mate. “Most of the boys on the team, I don’t talk to on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, but I talk to Ste­wart all of the time.”

Brazil, from Spa­niard’s Bay, is the son of Damien and Ed­wina Brazil. He agreed with Riggs.

“The first year was tough, where I didn’t know any­body be­cause I was the only one from my area who got se­lected,” he said. “But this year, it’s been good, be­cause not only am I good friends with Bradley be­cause we’re from the same area, but I can talk to the other guys as well.”

It all started for Riggs and Brazil two years ago in the sum­mer of 2011, when both ath­letes par­tic­i­pated in the first eval­u­a­tion camp in June of that year.

“My mom was bit­ing her nails wait­ing to see if I had been se­lected,” said Brazil.

With the orig­i­nal se­lec­tions made, this is where the nar­ra­tive breaks in two.

Brazil was se­lected af­ter the first round of se­lec­tions, while Riggs was cut.

“It felt pretty bad not mak­ing it first,” said Riggs.

Brazil went on to spend the sum­mer of 2011 trav­el­ling with the ban­tam se­lects and pick­ing up base­ball knowl­edge from the minds of Gul­liver, Hum­ber and Healey.

“It’s been an ex­cel­lence ex­pe­ri­ence the past two years,” Brazil said.

Their nar­ra­tives would in­ter­twine again when Riggs again tried out dur­ing a se­lec­tion camp in June of this year.

As fate would have it, Riggs, the son of Ricky and Eve­lyn Riggs of Up­per Is­land Cove, was se­lected the sec­ond time out to be a part of a 20-player ros­ter that headed to Prince Ed­ward Is­land to com­pete in de­vel­op­men­tal games against Canada Games aged play­ers from PEI and the other At­lantic prov­inces. Brazil was also se­lected. “It was great get­ting se­lected,” said Riggs. “I wasn’t even go­ing to try out.”

Brazil said the en­tire process has been “ex­cel­lent.”

He noted that the trip to PEI was a suc­cess­ful one, some­thing Riggs agreed with.

“I was pleased with my per­for­mance,” said Brazil.

Coach’s words

Gul­liver said both play­ers have “showed prom­ise.”

“Both are very good kids and are very coach­able,” he told The Com­pass. “They fit in well and get along with the boys.”

Gul­liver said he liked Riggs “ath­letic abil­ity” and will be look­ing at him more as a left-handed pitcher.

“He has a live arm,” he said. “But, he needs a bit of sea­son­ing as a pitcher.”

Gul­liver said Brazil is also be­ing looked at pri­mar­ily as a pitcher, but he can “also play a bit of the out­field.”

“He’s a de­cent contact hit­ter,” he said.

Gul­liver and his staff have been us­ing pro­vin­cial tour­na­ments to eval­u­ate all of the play­ers in­volved in the se­lec­tion process.

This week’s New­found­land and Labrador Sum­mer Games fig­ures to be the fi­nal au­di­tion time for all of the play­ers and Gul­liver said he will be in town for the last two days of the tour­na­ment.

“It’s largely about per­for­mance,” said Gul­liver about what in­flu­ences the fi­nal ros­ter. “Where do they fit in with the team?”

The ros­ter is expected to be fi­nal­ized by the end of Septem­ber.

Riggs and Brazil have dif­fer­ent out­looks on how they are as pitch­ers.

Riggs likes to use his big frame to his ad­van­tage, de­scrib­ing him­self as a power pitcher who uses a knuckle-curve as an out pitch.

Brazil fan­cies him­self a con­trol pitcher, one who hits his spots and favours his fourseam fast­ball.

Nei­ther of the ath­letes ex­pect to be ner­vous as the tour­na­ment pro­gresses.

“I’ll be ner­vous at the be­gin­ning, but as it goes on I’ll try my best to have fun,” said Brazil.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/the Com­pass

Con­cep­tion Bay North ball play­ers Ste­wart Brazil (left) and Bradley Riggs are deep into the se­lec­tion process for the 2013 Canada Games team.

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