With picnic benches full of apparel, hats and shirts from numerous colleges floating around, and one player in a Dragon Ball Z t-shirt and sweatpants shorts, the CRCBL season has unofficially begun in Bethesda.
Friday morning marked the beginning of another summer campaign for the defending CRCBL champion Bethesda Big Train as players reported to Shirley Povich Field to receive their uniforms and extra apparel.
“It was pretty cool getting here and meeting all the guys,” catcher Logan Driscoll (George Mason) said. “That’s something that you never really experience growing ‘cause you’re usually playing with the same guys so it was nice to meet different people from different areas.”
While numbers were light as many Big Train players are still playing in the NCAA tournament, those in attendance were heavy on new faces. Ken Waldichuk (St. Mary’s), Tanner Allen (Mississippi State) and Gaby Cruz (Bryant) comprised a few of the new players who will have their first experience in the CRCBL this summer.
Waldichuk, who finished with a 1.86 ERA in 29 innings during the college season, joins Ty Madrigal, Kevin Milam and Matt Green as part of the St. Mary’s (CA) contingent playing for the Big Train this summer. Waldichuk noted the shape in which Shirley Povich Field is in as one of his initial reactions on the day.
“It’s a really nice stadium,” Waldichuk said. “Really enjoyed how nice the field is.”
Allen also presents a unique story for the Big Train this season. The rising freshman at Mississippi State hit .398 in his senior season of high school but has yet to play a collegiate game for the Bulldogs. Suiting up for the defending CRCBL Champions this summer will present a new challenge for the talented youngster.
“It’s going to be fun.” Allen said. “There’s a lot of really good players out here and I feel like I have the ability to perform at the level they are.”
And despite all the new faces, many things remain the same for the Big Train. Manager Sal Colangelo will be at the helm for the Big Train for his 13th season with the organization, while Garrett Kueber (Austin Peay State) joins eight returning players on the field.
“It’s fun coming back,” Kueber said. “The group of guys are always great here. Always a competitive team so it’s a lot of fun.”
In addition to receiving uniforms and apparel, players took part in batting practice and bullpen sessions to familiarize themselves with each other and the coaching staff. For the pitchers and catchers it was also their first time to figure out each other’s tendencies before the season gets officially underway.
“As far as catching the guys it was cool just seeing different arms and seeing how everyone is different in every way,” Driscoll said.
And while the first game isn’t until June 6, the Big Train players and coaches are excited to get things going summer and have their eyes on the end of the season already.
When asked about goals for the season, Kueber kept it simple.
“Win another championship of course. Beat the Redbirds.”
Check out the Big Train's report day video on YouTube!
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