Ryan Bicknell’s first trip outside of Canada and the United States is one that he won’t forget.
The 17-year-old outfielder, who is a Grade 12 student at St. Mary, helped his country capture a gold medal at the WBSC Americas Under-17 men’s softball championship last Saturday in Guatemala City, Guatemala with a 4-1 win over Mexico.
“It’s still hard to believe,” Bicknell said. “When the final out happened, we all ran out on the field and celebrated, but it felt like that all of us had known each other for a lot longer than our time together actually was.
“The experience in Guatemala was awesome. The flights felt kind of long but once I got settled in over there and it started to sink that I was actually playing in a different country, it made for a really special experience.”
Bicknell had a couple of familiar faces in the dugout during the tournament as Delisle’s Max Major was on the roster and Prince Albert’s Kalen Kovitch served as one of the coaches.
“I’ve known Kalen for quite a bit now and he’s been a great help in helping me work on things that I needed to improve on before the tournament after I found out that I had been named to the team a few months ago,” Bicknell said.
“Max and I actually played together for the Delisle Pride this year so it was great to have someone else that I knew on the team that was from the same provinces, as we had 10 guys from Ontario, two from Quebec and one from Nova Scotia on our roster.”
After losing their first game of the tournament to the United States by a score of 10-5, Canada rattled off six straight wins on their way to the gold medal.
“That game was a real eye-opener for us as we quickly found out what we had to do in order to have a good week, and I think the lessons that we learned from that loss helped us out in our close games with Guatemala and Argentina,” Bicknell said.
“I think what stood out with our team was the depth that we had. There are so many guys that are good pitchers, hitters and fielders in our lineup and we are always ready to help someone out if they are struggling.”
Bicknell posted a .250 batting average and had two runs batted in during the tournament, which also saw him hit a double and two triples.
“I really felt like I did well with my base running and I was happy with my hitting,” Bicknell said.
“I misjudged a few balls in the outfield though, so I’m already focused on doing a lot of work on that side of the game as I know that I can do better in that department.”
Thanks to their gold medal showing, Canada has now clinched a spot at the 2020 WBSC Under-18 World Cup, which will be held in Palmerston, New Zealand from Feb. 22 to March 1
“It’s been great to get to know these guys and I’m looking forward to our next tournament together,” Bicknell said.
“I’m going to be working out a lot over the next three months and I have a few bunting and slap hitting techniques that I’m going to be focusing on here in the next few weeks.”