HarbourCats, NightOwls 2021 schedules released

The Victoria HarbourCats are set to open the 2021 West Coast League season June 1-3 in one of Canada’s best baseball stadiums. The 9,000-seat ReMax Field, on the riverfront in downtown Edmonton, is a former pro Triple-A ballpark and home to the expansion Riverhawks

“It’s either ReMax Field or Nat Bailey [in Vancouver] that are the best baseball stadiums in Canada,” said HarbourCats GM and managing-partner Jim Swanson.

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“It’s going to be exciting to play in Edmonton. We will also be the first WCL team to fly to a league series [teams will fly into the Alberta capital because of the distance involved].”

The 2020 WCL season was cancelled due to the pandemic. The 54-game 2021 schedules for each team were released Thursday. They feature cross-border play between the five Canadian and 10 U.S. franchises in Washington state and Oregon. The Canada-U.S. border is currently closed.

“All we can do is plan for a return to normal and make adjustments as they come if we have to,” said Swanson.

“It’s still more than six months away.”

The HarbourCats will play the expansion Nanaimo NightOwls nine times.

“It will be the best rivalry, and I lobbied for even more games between the HarbourCats and NightOwls,” said Swanson.

“The MLB does a great job of that sort of thing with inter-league play because they save money when the White Sox play the Cubs.”

The HarbourCats and NightOwls are operated by the same ownership group.

The HarbourCats open at home June 4 against the Port Angeles Lefties at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.

The NightOwls will play the first game in franchise history June 1 in Wenatchee, Washington, against the AppleSox. The franchise debut WCL home game at Serauxmen Stadium in Nanaimo will feature the visiting HarbourCats on June 8 as the Island derby gets rolling early.

The WCL is a summer league featuring collegiate players from top U.S. NCAA conferences such as the Pac-12 and Big Ten.

WCL graduate pitcher Shane Bieber, out of the 2014 Cowlitz Black Bears, was named 2020 American League Cy Young Award winner. Five WCL alumni were selected in this year’s abbreviated five-round MLB draft. Former WCL players have been drafted in the first round in each of the past four years. Ninety alumni or then-current WCL players were selected in the 2019 MLB draft and 73 in 2018.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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