Running of the Bulls

Lethbridge, AB – Kregg Snook has been waiting longer than he had hoped to return to Spitz Stadium.

A pitcher for the Lethbridge Bulls in 2014 and 2016, Snook posted a 4.10 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 44 innings of work.

After his playing career came to an end, Snook turned to coaching with a handful of colleges as well as the Martinsville Mustangs of the Coastal Plain League. In November 2019, he was named head coach of his old Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) club.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, delaying Snook’s debut as the boss of the Bulls’ bench. It didn’t stop the work though. Not only did he move to McCook Community College to become an assistant coach for their baseball team, but he’s also been in touch with his staff in Lethbridge to recruit for the 2021 season.

“The biggest thing in recruiting is trying to find complete players from coaches that I trust,” Snook said. “It is also important to find guys that want to be present for the entire summer.”

The Bulls are coming off a second place finish in the Western Division, and have high expectations in hopes of unseating the defending champion Okotoks Dawgs.

Pitching Prowess

The first thing you notice when scrolling through the first handful of commits heading to Lethbridge for 2021 is the abundance of right-handed pitchers. Seven of the first 13 players announced by the Bulls are expected to toe the rubber with a glove on their left hand.

It should come as no surprise, as both Snook and pitching coach Luc Hebert (also a Bulls alum) did the same thing in their playing days.

The list is highlighted by a trio of returnees from 2019. WCBL All Star hurler Ben Erwin (Spruce Grove, AB; Niagara University) will be leaned on again for some big innings. He went 5-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 10 appearances in 2019. This will also be his fourth summer with the Bulls.

Kyle Poapst (Stettler, AB; Prairie Baseball Academy) is also a grizzled veteran on the bump, as 2021 will mark his third year with the team. He went 1-2 with a 5.91 ERA in 17 relief appearances for the Bulls in 2019.

And youngster Levi Abbott (Lethbridge, AB; Canisius College) was brought in for the last few games of the 2019 season after spending three seasons with the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball. The 6-foot-3, 194-pound hurler has been highly-regarded since high school.

The Bulls also have some new right-handed blood coming to the mound in the form of Brady Kobitowich, Ty Schaffer, Tyler Stone and Chaney Trout.

Kobitowich (Edmonton, AB) is entering his freshman year with Cloud County College after growing up in the Prospects Academy program, while Schaffer (Cardston, AB) is no stranger to the WCBL after he went 0-1 with a 7.59 ERA in three games for the Brooks Bombers in 2019.

Stone (Rockwall, TX) struck out eight batters and walked five in three innings of work in his debut with the University of Texas Permian Basin.

And Trout (Poplar Bluff, MO) has already made three relief appearances with the Frontier Community College Bobcats, picking up two saves and a loss to go along with a 6.00 ERA.

The lone lefty committed so far is Chris Mazzini (Parker, CO). The freshman out of Northeast Community College went 2-3 with a 6.46 ERA in five starts for the Hawks in the shortened 2019-2020 college season.

Battery Mates

The Bulls have seemingly firmed up their presence behind the plate for all of those pitchers.

Roger Riley (Henderson, NV) was a workhorse for the Bulls in 2019, hitting .321 with 14 RBIs in 32 games, following that up by hitting .455 in three playoff games. Riley is in his senior season with the Regis University Rangers.

He will be joined by hometown product Ty Wevers. The Lethbridge product graduated from Vauxhall Academy of Baseball and has moved to Cloud County for his freshman campaign.

The connections to Vauxhall and Prairie Baseball Academy run deep for a reason, according to Snook.

“It is extremely important for me to have a good relationship with Les (McTavish) and Todd (Hubka),” he said. “It helps that I also played for Ryan (MacDonald) when he was the head coach of the Bulls. I can call them up any time and ask for opinions on guys.”

Brotherly Love

Speaking of Vauxhall, there’s another name that stands out when browsing through the list of early commits. Well…one last name, anyways.

Liam Vulcano (Surrey, BC; University of British Columbia) will return to the Bulls’ middle infield, where he hit .232 with a home run and 13 RBIs in 43 games in 2019.

His brother, John, will also be looking to nab a spot in the infield. With Colby Community College, Vulcano hit .190 with five home runs and 12 RBIs in 17 games in the COVID-shortened season.

Most recently, the Bulls have added a trio of local products to the mix. Brad Goodwin (Sherwood Park, AB; Prairie Baseball Academy) as well as Vauxhall grads Max Grant (Fredericton, NB; Canisius College) and Carlin Dick (Abbottsford, BC; Canisius College) are set to spent time in the Bulls’ infield during the summer.

“I think we have a lot of talent, but especially young talent that is hungry for the chance to compete in the WCBL,” Snook said. “I’m expecting that we will have a group of guys that competes every night, plays the game hard and can be great role models in Lethbridge.”

The Bulls are set to begin their season at home against the Sylvan Lake Gulls on May 28.

For more updates on the team, check out their website, or follow them on social media through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.