Diamonds are forever and Chemainus product Matt Simpson is always going to covet this season’s experience with the Mid-Island Pirates in the B.C. Premier Baseball League.
The Pirates captured the regular season pennant with a 38-10 record, but couldn’t quite finish the job after losing 9-2 to the North Shore Twins during the final of the league’s top five championship tournament at UBC on the long weekend.
Simpson and a host of players from the Duncan and Ladysmith areas contributed to the success of the team, based out of Nanaimo and under the direction of coaching guru Doug Rogers.
“Our coaches, they saw us in our Grade 9-10 years,” said Simpson. “They knew right off the bat we were going to be good three years down the road.”
After starting out in the Chemainus & District Baseball Association, Simpson joined the Cowichan Valley Mustangs in bantam and then became a member of the junior Pirates before making the move to the senior Pirates.
It’s always an adjustment going from one level to another and it was no different for Simpson between the junior and senior Pirates. The team finished eighth last season before making the huge leap in the standings to first.
“It was kind of like I was playing a little bit, obviously not as much as I’m playing now,” Simpson said of his inaugural senior campaign.
He split time between catcher and left field.
The large majority of the players on this year’s team were in Grade 12, including Simpson. That creates some other difficulties with players being so busy at school as well as grad activities.
“There’s weekends guys couldn’t make it – they had prom and grad stuff,” Simpson conceded.
He was the co-valedictorian of his grad class at Chemainus Secondary School.
The Pirates were so solid from top to bottom, they didn’t miss a beat whenever anyone was absent.
A hectic regular season schedule also included regular workouts for Simpson at Anytime Fitness in Chemainus.
“They still expect us to do workouts on our own throughout the year,” he indicated.
Simpson always sees room for improvement in himself.
“I would have liked to get my batting average a little bit higher,” he conceded.
Simpson batted around the .250 mark for the season.
The Pirates swept Victoria Eagles 6-1 and 5-3 at Nanaimo’s Serauxmen Stadium to earn their place in the final four tournament.
There’s now a brief period for Simpson to take a break and then get used to the idea of life after high school, as he’s heading to Vancouver Island University in the Bachelor of Education program.
“I guess when September comes around, it’ll stick in my mind I’m not going back to high school again.”
Simpson’s late birthdate ensures he can play another season with the Pirates.
“Hopefully after that year, I’ll go down to the States on a baseball scholarship,” he said.
“I’ve been talking to a few schools. Just the right offer hasn’t come up yet.”
Looking back on his time since joining the Pirates, Simpson has nothing but fond memories.
“I’ve loved it – just being able to play, especially playing at a high level, too. It doesn’t really matter where I’m playing.”