Dartmouth Juniors to host 2013 Junior NationalsNova Scotia’s baseball enthusiasts, fans and players, will eagerly welcome the very best junior-aged baseball players (21 and under) in Canada to Dartmouth and Halifax as the Dartmouth Juniors have been selected by Baseball Canada to host the 2013 Canadian Junior Baseball Championship. In what many refer to as “The Memorial Cup of Canadian Junior Baseball”, the 10 teams that will represent each province (with the exception of Alberta) will surely showcase some future stars of the game in Canada and in the United States, even at the professional level.

“We are extremely excited in hosting the very best junior baseball teams and players next year for the national junior baseball championship,” said Paul Arsenault owner and coach of the Dartmouth Juniors. “With the experience gathered in hosting the senior nationals, the volunteers are more than ready, willing, and able to host a high-quality event that will be a huge success. The local junior baseball players are thrilled as well.”

Many are unaware of the high calibre of baseball played by players at this level in Canada. The Canadian Baseball Network reports that over 700 players from this country are currently playing in one of the 6 categories of U.S. university or college baseball. The number of players drafted by major league baseball clubs continues to grow each year and this age group is the focus for scouts from the various major league clubs, and it is a given that many scouts will be in attendance during the tournament.

Baseball fans will be familiar with a number of players who have participated at the national junior event. New Brunswick’s Matt Stairs, Paul Spoljaric, Rob Butler, and Corey Koskie all played for the Toronto Blue Jays. Jason Dickson, also from New Brunswick, was an all-star MLB pitcher, and is still a standout pitcher with the Chatham Ironmen of the New Brunswick Senior Baseball League.

Arsenault will double his responsibilities as the chairman for the tournament. He took on the same position for the extremely successful Canadian Senior Baseball Championship in 2009 and 2010 and looks forward to hosting the event over five days from Aug. 15-19 next summer. Most of the supporting cast of volunteers have returned to ensure the same results seen at the senior nationals, something not lost on Baseball Canada, extremely impressed with the turnout of fans for the event in those two years and with the overall success of the tournaments.

“We at Baseball Canada are thrilled that Dartmouth, with Paul Arsenault heading the local group, has accepted the offer to host this event,” said Kelsey McIntosh, Director for Baseball Canada. “The success of the senior nationals in 2009 and 2010 was extremely gratifying, and we are convinced that the national junior tournament will be a huge success too. Baseball fans will be pleasantly surprised at the caliber of baseball these young men play.”

Arsenault has headed up the junior baseball program in Dartmouth since 1992, providing an opportunity for many to continue their careers at a high level, honing their skills and moving on to the United States or to senior baseball in the province. The Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League and the affiliated senior club, the Dartmouth Moosehead Dry in particular, have benefited from the players developed while with the Dartmouth junior squad. The senior Dry have been one of the most successful teams in Canada for over 20 years, having won the provincial senior title an incredible 16 times, have won the national title twice, and captured the silver medal in their own 2010 national tournament.

Over the past 10 years Arsenault’s clubs have won 8 provincial crowns, thus earning the right to represent the province at this same national tournament. His 2005 club came ever so close to capturing the gold medal at the national tournament in Saskatoon, losing to Quebec 5-4 in the championship game. His clubs also impressed with 5th place showings in 2008 and 2011.

The announcement of the tournament coming to Nova Scotia has already begun to have positive effects throughout the province. Junior teams in Halifax, Tri-County (Bedford-Sackville), and Dartmouth have already hit the diamond this summer with an eye to next year’s tournament. Many of the players with their respective teams will still have a year or more of eligibility remaining next year and thus will participate in the national event. Games in the league and in various tournaments this summer will help prepare the teams. In fact, the Dartmouth Juniors will host their annual tournament this weekend of June 22-24 at Beazley Field in Dartmouth and Mainland Common in Halifax. The three local junior clubs will participate with the N.S. Selects, the P.E.I. Selects, and the local intermediate Dartmouth Drillers filling out the roster of teams. There is no admission charge for the games. The tournament schedule is available at www.juniornationals.ca

“With baseball growing in numbers at all levels, male and female, having the junior nationals and the bantam girls played here will certainly put a country-wide spotlight on our programs,” said Holly Lapierre, Treasurer of Baseball Nova Scotia. She’s confident that the same success showcased at the senior nationals will be seen in both championships.

Arsenault and his many volunteers are already hard at it in terms of planning and additional volunteers are always welcome. Information for the national tourney is already available at www.juniornationals.ca


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