The Portage Collegiate Saints fastpitch season is right around the corner. 

With the first game scheduled for April 26 against the Carman Cougars, the girls have been preparing heavily for the 2023 campaign. Head coach Shauna Cochrane-Thomson says they haven't got into the field yet but have still had a lot of time to practice.

"We've been in the gym since before spring break, unfortunately, we haven't been able to get outside at all," Cochrane-Thomson explains. "We still have a very young team. Actually, we're pretty heavy with Grade 10s and 11s. We'll have two Grade 12s and a few Grade 9s. We have a lot of returning players from last year and a few rookies coming up. We're looking forward to it."

The head coach is happy to have a core group of returning players that she knows will be with the team beyond this season.

"It's nice. You're not re-teaching every drill. You can use your older players as mentors for the younger ones, and they can teach them to run each drill because the coaches can't be there to watch everything," Cochrane-Thomson continues. "We've had a couple of injuries, and those girls who are out and played with us last year are stepping into a bit of a coaching role until they can get back on the field. It's kind of nice not teaching every little aspect, and for them to be coaching each other is really awesome."

While they are very optimistic about what the season has in store, Cochrane-Thomson says they'd be lying if they said the start of the year wasn't a challenge.

"We're really limited with what we can work on in a gym. We can work on individual skills and ground balls but all the hops are true in the gym. So, it makes it difficult to simulate what it'll be like outside. Doing our infield, we can't go the full distance because our gym isn't big enough. No fly balls for the outfielders makes it really tough."

The silver lining for PCI is that everyone will be on an even playing field when it comes to practice time outside as the weather has affected all of Manitoba in a similar capacity.

The Saints have a six-game season, with the regular season starting on April 26 and winding down on May 17. 

"We have an even number of home and away games. We have our home tournament coming up (May 5 & 6). So, the front of the season is home loaded, which is pretty nice," She explains. "We end with zones. We host them in Portage. That's always nice to have a home tournament to see who goes to provincials." 

The Saints are excited to get back on the field for another season.