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Alberta Dugout Stories: The Podcast
20 minutes | Jul 29, 2021
Episode 142: Jackson Fraser
The NJCAA Division II final series between LSU-Eunice and Western Oklahoma was one for the ages. It also included a pair of players with ties to Alberta. We previously chatted with Airdrie's Ayden Makarus about becoming a national champion, and this week, we bring a conversation we recently had with fellow Dawgs Academy grad Jackson Fraser. The freshman right-hander hails from Buena Vista, Saskatchewan, and is no stranger to hopping on a plane to keep his baseball dreams alive. He's now playing in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League in New York and joined us to talk about his journey in the sport, including a memorable time at the Tournament-12 in Toronto.
28 minutes | Jul 22, 2021
Episode 141: Alejandro Cazorla Granados & Conor Bronson
As the Western Canadian Baseball League season winds along, we wanted to give you a chance to get to know some of the players who have been entertaining us with their play this summer. That continues this week with Dawgs Black infielder Alejandro Cazorla Granados and Edmonton Prospects outfielder Conor Bronson. The two have had very different paths that have now crossed. Cazorla Granados is originally from Venezuela but moved to Canada when he was younger, while Bronson is originally from St. Albert.
24 minutes | Jul 15, 2021
Episode 140: 2021 MLB Draft Review
Many eyes were on the 2021 MLB Draft this week as young baseball players hoped to hear their names called over the 20 rounds. In the end, 17 Canadians were taken and while none were from Alberta, a handful played or trained here. We recap what all happened, plus we're joined by Milwaukee Brewers draft pick and Dawgs Academy grad Tristan Peters as well as San Diego Padres selection and Vauxhall Academy product Garrett Hawkins.
23 minutes | Jul 8, 2021
Episode 139: Cleary Simpson & Tucker Zdunich
One of the big storylines heading into the Western Canadian Baseball League season was about how it would be an "All-Canadian" summer. It was viewed as an opportunity to show off the great talent we have in Canada, especially here in Alberta, as we slowly emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. In this episode of the podcast, we chat with a couple of players who are suiting up for teams close to home. Elnora's Cleary Simpson entered the Sylvan Lake Gulls' record book by scoring the team's first-ever run and hit their first-ever home run, while High River's Tucker Zdunich is with Okotoks Dawgs Red after a five-year career with Dawgs Academy. Both are Colby Community College products who are excited about where their baseball journeys have taken them.
19 minutes | Jul 1, 2021
Episode 138: Carlin Dick
At 5'8" and 215 pounds, Carlin Dick isn't the most imposing player on the Lethbridge Bulls roster. But fans are definitely taking notice as he's opened up the WCBL season on fire. Through five games, the Vauxhall Academy product was hitting .333 with two doubles, five runs batted in and two stolen bases. The Abbottsford, BC native is also coming off an All-MAAC All-Rookie Team season with Canisius College, where he hit .348 with two home runs and 12 RBIs in 17 games. As the Bulls got ready for their Canada Day home games, the rightfielder took some time to talk about his year so far, which also included a mild case of COVID-19.
20 minutes | Jun 24, 2021
Episode 137: Cole Tucker
Cole Tucker figures to be a prominent piece of the Dawgs Red squad during the 2021 Western Canadian Baseball League season. The native of Mount Pearl, Newfoundland is a Dawgs Academy product who went on to play with Southeastern Community College before spending the last couple of years with the Niagara University Purple Eagles. He's coming off a spring where he hit .391 with three home runs and 19 runs batted in, while being named to the All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Second Team. We chatted with the 6'1", 195-pound middle infielder before he made his debut in Okotoks on Tuesday. Big thanks to Angela B Photography for the photos we've used of Cole. Check out her work here on Instagram.
29 minutes | Jun 17, 2021
Episode 136: WCBL Season Preview
It will be a season like no other, that can absolutely be certain. First pitch on the 2021 Western Canadian Baseball League season is upon us. Five teams will be taking part: the Edmonton Prospects, Lethbridge Bulls, two squads from the Okotoks Dawgs and the expansion Sylvan Lake Gulls will be hitting the field this summer with dreams of winning the coveted Harry Hallis trophy. And for the first time, the league is going “All Canadian” to showcase the home-grown talent we have in Alberta and across Canada. We check in with ADS co-founder Ian Wilson to preview the upcoming season, as he wrote up a season preview story on our website here.
19 minutes | Jun 10, 2021
Episode 135: Ayden Makarus
Ayden Makarus can now add "national champion" to his impressive baseball resume. The Dawgs Academy product was part of the LSU-Eunice squad that captured the NJCAA Division II title over the weekend in an exciting 5-4 extra innings win over Western Oklahoma. Makarus has been an immediate contributor to the Bengals offensively after a successful high school career, including a spot on Baseball Canada's Junior National Team. We talked about it all, plus a few other questions that we didn't get a chance to ask when we first met him on Episode #27 of the podcast.
35 minutes | Jun 3, 2021
Episode 134: Play Ball!
It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to look forward to actual baseball on Alberta diamonds. But after the provincial government announced its roadmap to reopening, baseball organizers started formalizing their “return to play” plans. There’s an air of cautious optimism, especially knowing that plans can and likely will, change. So we thought we’d go right to the source this week and chat with a couple of people who have been helping drive those preparations forward. Ryan Bird of Baseball Alberta and Kevin Kvame of the Western Canadian Baseball League join us to talk about their planning and what's to come this summer.
19 minutes | May 27, 2021
Episode 133: Logan Grant
Every young baseball player starting off his college career dreams of making an impact right out of the gates. But maybe not to the extent Logan Grant achieved with the Bismarck State College Mystics. The freshman catcher/infielder made life difficult for opposing National Junior College Athletic Association pitchers, hitting a fantastic .423 with eight home runs, 58 RBIs and six stolen bases in 37 games. And for being such a young athlete, he’s had an interesting journey to get to where he’s at, including playing at both Vauxhall Academy of Baseball and Dawgs Academy in Okotoks. Grant has had some downtime recently as he was in quarantine after returning home from North Dakota , so we had a chat about his season full of accolades, growing up on the family farm outside Chestermere, and much, much more.
25 minutes | May 20, 2021
Episode 132: Cohen Achen
It all changed in the blink of an eye for Cohen Achen. The up-and-coming pitcher was on the mound for Big Bend Community College in early-2020 when he was hit in the face by a comebacker. He considers himself lucky that it was in a spot near the eye that didn’t damage the orbital bone, jaw bone or hit his temple. But he definitely had a concussion and a nasty bump that took about three months to heal. It wasn’t just physical either, as he had to get back onto a mound again, even though playing catch sometimes left him a little uneasy. Once he got over it, he flourished. The 19-year-old came back this spring with Lindsay Wilson College, going 5-0 with a 2.38 ERA in 13 appearances, including seven starts after starting the season in the bullpen. For his efforts, Achen was named an All Mid-South Conference Second-Team All Star and was named the MSC Freshman of the Year. He’s now in quarantine after arriving back home, and chatted with me earlier this week about his baseball journey, his all star campaign, and how his injury actually helped give him a new love for the game.
23 minutes | May 13, 2021
Episode 131: Chas Wheatley
It hasn’t been an easy road for Chas Wheatley. The Edmonton-area pitcher was off to a flying start in his baseball career, but then an ulnar nerve injury in the summer of 2018 led to surgery. Add in the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s been a long time since he’s been on the field for actual game action. The 6-foot-7 right-hander faced the additional challenge of watching other players his age commit to US colleges and universities, while he had to wait, hoping someone would take a shot at recruiting him. As it turns out, a few schools showed interest, and in December, Wheatley committed to the Division-1 University of Iowa Hawkeyes. It’s been quite the journey, but one he takes in stride. Earlier this week, we chatted with the 19-year-old about the injuries, the comeback, and training with Taylor Burns and the team at Absolute Human Performance.
21 minutes | May 6, 2021
Episode 130: Heidi Northcott
We open up the episode by paying tribute to long-time and well-respected umpire Mitch Ball, who passed away last weekend after battling COVID-19. Someone who has been on the front lines facing the pandemic on a daily basis is Heidi Northcott. A long-time member of Baseball Alberta and Baseball Canada’s women’s programs as a pitcher, the Rocky Mountain House native is now a Registered Respiratory Therapist at an adult acute care facility in Edmonton. While she learned about pandemics and planning for them while she was going to school at SAIT in Calgary, she didn’t necessarily expect to be thrown into it so quickly after graduating in 2019. We talked about it all a couple of weeks ago during some rare downtime Northcott had and here is that conversation.
19 minutes | Apr 29, 2021
Episode 129: Tristan Peters
As the college baseball season continues stateside, we’ve had the pleasure of chatting with some of the Alberta products who have been turning heads. And we’ll continue that theme this week with Tristan Peters. Originally from Winkler, Manitoba, he moved to Alberta in high school to be part of the Dawgs Academy program. The 6-foot, 180-pound outfielder moved on to star at Chandler-Gilbert before hitting the ground running with SIU. Peters has been hitting near .400 all season. As we record this, Peters is at .355 with two home runs, 35 runs batted in and 12 stolen bases in 39 games. Patience has been his MO all year, drawing 31 walks and getting deep into counts, finding the right pitches to drive. We caught up with the sophomore about the transition to Division 1, being a part of the 2019 Okotoks Dawgs championship team, and why he’s a self-professed nerd.
28 minutes | Apr 22, 2021
Episode 128: Edmonton Trappers Retrospective
It has been 40 years since Alberta baseball fans were first introduced to the Pacific Coast League. On April 14, 1981, the Edmonton Trappers took to the field on the road against the Portland Beavers. Eight days later, April 22nd, the Trappers made their debut on home turf, taking on the Tacoma Tigers at Renfrew Park. It was quite the journey in making that happen. Efforts to start a new professional baseball league in Western Canada fell through, as did hopes to bring a Pioneer League team to face Calgary, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. Edmonton’s Mr. Baseball, Mel Kowalchuk, wouldn’t take no for an answer, and looked into the possibility of Triple-A coming to town. When an expansion team wasn’t feasible, he looked at buying an existing franchise, bringing in Peter Pocklington to help finance a deal for the Ogden Athletics. After some back-and-forth, the deal happened, the team moved and the rest, as they say, is history. We chatted with one of Kowalchuk's friends, Orv Franchuk, and former pitcher Bill Atkinson about that inaugural season.
21 minutes | Apr 15, 2021
Episode 127: Shawn Grandmont
We first met Shawn Grandmont back in 2018 when he was with the College of Southern Idaho when they went to the JUCO World Series. We wrote up a story to preview the event, and have kept tabs on him ever since. Grandmont moved up to NCAA Division II Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, which is about a two-hour drive from CSI. Over the last three years, the Lethbridge product has continued to get better. He made our 2020 All-College Alberta team by hitting .339 with six homers and 15 RBIs in just 16 games. This year, he’s been even better, hitting .378 with six homers and 34 RBIs in 24 games, helping lead the Knighthawks to a 19-5 record overall and 13-3 in conference play. The Vauxhall Academy grad took some time earlier this week to chat with us about baseball, patience and cookies.
28 minutes | Apr 1, 2021
Episode 126: Damiano Palmegiani
Our guest this week is a man who has dreams of being on an Opening Day roster in the not-too-distant future. Damiano Palmegiani has had quite the journey already in his young baseball career. The native of Surrey, BC came to Alberta as a teenager to take his career to the next level with Vauxhall Academy. He did that in spades, making it to the Tournament-12 in Toronto and then Baseball Canada’s Junior National Team. In 2018, Palmegiani was drafted in the 35th round by his favourite team, the Toronto Blue Jays. He decided to go to school, first heading to Cal State Northridge. But he struggled on the field, hitting .157 in 31 games. The COVID-19 pandemic got in the way of any possible rebound in 2020, leading him to a change of scenery with the College of Southern Nevada for 2021. And he has shined with the Coyotes. As we record this, Palmegiani is hitting .376 with 13 home runs and 40 RBIs in 31 games. In this wide-ranging conversation, the 6-1, 195-pound sophomore talks about the long road to Nevada, how he turned things around, his commitment announcement earlier this year to Division-1 Arizona and much more.
23 minutes | Mar 25, 2021
Episode 125: Kandi Wyatt
As March winds to a close, we thought we’d take another opportunity to recognize International Women’s Day by welcoming another former member of Baseball Alberta’s Women’s team to the podcast. And her story is a fascinating one. Kandi Wyatt played a lot of baseball growing up in Rocky Mountain House. Mainly a catcher, Wyatt made her way up to the provincial team, winning gold at nationals in 2006 and 2014. She was also a part of the Girls Day in Baseball event put on by Baseball Alberta last summer that featured several big names from this province including Kelsey Lalor, Tara Sliwkanich and last week’s podcast guest Paige Wakefield. We reached out to Wyatt earlier this month to chat about her journey in baseball, moving onto boxing, cycling and her attempt to crush a five-pound poutine.
22 minutes | Mar 18, 2021
Episode 124: Paige Wakefield
We’ve been lucky enough to have quite a few conversations over the last couple of years around the women’s game in this province and highlighted them on social media back on #InternationalWomensDay. From profiling players like Nicole Luchanski, Kelsey Lalor, Tara Sliwkanich, Ellie Jespersen and Madison Willan to our chat with Baseball Alberta’s Barb Northcott and Chris James about the growth of the game as a whole, it felt like there was a lot of momentum before the pandemic hit. During the pandemic, Joe was lucky enough to MC the Girls Day in Baseball online sessions featuring panel discussions with past and present players to help keep the spotlight on the game. And that’s where I first chatted with Paige Wakefield. The St. Albert product represented our province at nationals on a few occasions and went to Havana, Cuba for Team Canada’s Spring Training in 2010. She had an illustrious career that spanned 13 years, including a gold medal at nationals in 2006. She later got into coaching and is now in physiotherapy. Earlier this week, we took to Zoom to chat about her journey in baseball, some of her personal highlights and how she uses that experience in her day-to-day life today.
25 minutes | Mar 11, 2021
Episode 123: Soren Graversen
Calgary’s Soren Graversen has been on a tear at William Penn University. As we record this, the Dawgs Academy grad is hitting .395 with five home runs and 20 RBIs. I reached out to him after an insane day at the plate on February 23rd. In a doubleheader against St. Xavier and Harris-Stowe State, he hit three home runs and 8 RBIs. The 6-4, 195-pound junior is back to having fun at the ballpark again. But it hadn’t been the case for a while, after controversy rocked the school he was previously at. At the end of 2018, Indian Hills Community College baseball coaches Cam Walker and Steve Kletke were accused of misconduct, allegedly providing false identities to foreign students so they could work to raise money for the team. The players, like Graversen, weren’t allowed to work under the terms of their student visas, with the players who came forward saying the coaches used physical punishment at practice for violations of team rules. Not only did it lead to ramifications off the field, but it affected players on the field as well. In this candid conversation, Graversen talks about trying to bounce back from it, what he’s learned about himself through it all, and he offers a fascinating answer to our usual question of what the game means to him.
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