Kelsey Lalor went 0-for-1 in her home debut for the Red Deer Riggers, the team she grew up watching and one that her dad played for and also coached. The Riggers lost 5-1 to the Edmonton Confederation Park Cubs. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Kelsey Lalor joins Red Deer Riggers and keeps family tradition alive

Riggers fall 5-1 to Edmonton Confederation Park Cubs

The ties run deep for Kelsey Lalor and the Red Deer Riggers.

Her grandfather Wayne was one of the original founders of the team, her dad Dwayne was a Riggers legend, both as a player and manager.

She’s intent on carrying that tradition this season, playing right field for the second time this year on Tuesday at home against the Edmonton Confederation Park Cubs.

Although she only had one at-bat, a ground out in the 5-1 loss, Lalor said it’s going to be a special season playing for the team she grew up watching.

“It’s really exciting getting to play with all these guys. I think it’s going to be a really fun experience,” said Lalor, who was an all-star outfielder for Canada at the 2018 Women’s Baseball World Cup.

Kelsey and her sister Hayley were never too far from the ballpark growing up. Running the bases after the game, chasing foul balls and dreaming about this moment. But back then, that’s all it was, just a pipe dream.

“It’s pretty cool, we used to joke about it and talk about it maybe happening one day. It’s really cool to play with this group. Definitely a cool feeling,” she said.

Now, it’s a crucial step in her development as a baseball player.

Lalor, 21, is also playing in the Alberta Midget AA League with the Alberta Women’s Provincial team, gearing up for a busy summer of baseball.

The first weekend of July, they will play at Women’s Nationals in Okotoks. After that, she will be at a four-day selection Camp for Team Canada, where she hopes to be among the top 20 players. That group will play at a world qualifier in Mexico at the end of the summer.

Lalor is one of few female players to ever suit up in the Sunburst Baseball League. Her former Team Canada teammate Nicole Luchanski used to play for the Cubs.

She noted that playing for the Riggers she’ll see tougher pitching than in Midget AA, overall higher quality of baseball that will get her ready to represent Team Canada at a world qualifier this summer.

“Lots of them have played at such a high level and they understand the game really well, so just being in that environment you can learn a lot as a baseball player,” Kelsey said of her hopes with the Riggers.

“You get to face some good pitching and good hitters. Guys make a lot of plays. It’s a high level of baseball for me to play at and a great opportunity to improve.”

Dombrowski goes holds the Riggers to one run

Tuesday night, Cubs pitcher Dirk Dombrowski kept the Riggers off-balance for the second game this season, allowing just one unearned run in a complete game. He gave up nine hits on the night but got the Riggers to hit into four double plays which mitigated the damage. He had one strikeout and three walks.

Jason Louis and Jaret Chatwood each had two hits on the night, while Shayne Court walked three times.

On the mound for Red Deer, Davin Gulbransen allowed four runs on 10 hits. He had five strikeouts and one walk in five and a third innings of work.

The trouble came in the fifth inning, with the Riggers down 2-0. Josh Edwards entered the game in relief of Gulbransen and gave up a bases-clearing, three RBI double to Dan Chappel.

In the second inning, the Riggers had bases loaded and no outs but were unable to cash any runs.

The Riggers are on the road Friday in Sherwood Park, then back at home on June 11 against the Sherwood Park Athletics.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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