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Rode: Jaden Lamothe’s decision worked out for Red Deer Riggers

The Riggers will play host to the senior national championships starting next Thursday
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A joke turned into reality which proved to be a benefit for the Red Deer Riggers.

Last summer, while playing for the Sylvan Lake Gulls of the Westerner Canadian Baseball League, Jaden Lamothe billeted with Owen Harriott’s family and they joked about him returning to work as a plumber this summer.

“We joked about it last summer which turned into a reality this summer,” said the 20-year-old Langley, B.C. native.

“My original plan was to take a break from baseball, but the Riggers came calling and I had to show up for them and I’m happy I did. It was a perfect way to stay in shape and make some money at the same time.”

Jaden played one season with the Gulls, but indicated he needed to make some money this summer and “you just don’t have the time to work when playing in that league.”

Lamothe fit in nicely at third base for the Riggers and will be counted on as the senior squad plays host to the Canadian Championships, beginning next Thursday at Great Chief Park.

“Looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ve played in the Western Canadians before but never in the Nationals. And it’s cool that we’re hosting.”

Jaden loved baseball from the time he was five and grew up playing in a strong B.C. program.

“I played Little League and minor ball and always wanted to take it as far as I could, whether that was college or pro,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it so far.”

He played two years of junior varsity ball in Illinois with the Parkland College Cobras and has committed to UBC in the fall.

“I had a couple offers to four-year programs in the States, but I’m kind of a homebody and wanted to stay close to home, so when UBC made me an offer I jumped at it. It’s a good program and my family has a short drive to come watch me.”

Jaden has always enjoyed playing the infield.

“In high school I caught a bit, but never did like that much,” he said. “Last year with the Gulls I played some first base, but mainly third base. That’s what I enjoy. You’re always in the action.”

Jaden has a good bat, hitting .350 last year with the Cobras with three home runs and 13 RBIs. He had an impressive 1,1077 OPS.

He also slammed three home runs for the Gulls last season, but doesn’t see himself as a home run threat.

“I can flash some power, but I don’t consider myself a power hitter, although my first hit as a Rigger was a home run, so that made an impression,” he said with a laugh.

“But really I feel I have a good bat, but at times shaky defence, although I’ve worked hard on that and it’s been a lot better and I hope to take that into the Nationals.”

This will be Jaden’s only season with the Riggers as he signed to play in the WCBL with the newly formed Saskatoon Berries next summer.

“When I was in Langley there was a guy from Saskatoon who came out to play and when I heard about the new team I contacted him to see if he knew anything about it. It turned out he signed and got me in contact with them and about 20 minutes before this interview I committed.

“If I lived in Red Deer I’d be back with the Riggers, but they’ll be fine, there’s a lot of good young players in the area.”

The Riggers open the Nationals Thursday at 7 p.m. against the highly regarded Windsor Stars.

“From what I hear they’re a good team with a lot of high-end college players, but then there will be a lot of quality teams here,” added Lamothe. “I’m looking forward to it. I feel we have the talent to play with them.

‘The thing is to trust each other and if we all come together at the right time we’ll be as good as anyone. We just have to make sure we don’t put any extra pressure on ourselves because we’re playing at home.

“In fact, we should enjoy it. We have good fans and that will have to help.”

The Riggers face Newfoundland/Labrador at 1 p.m. and Nova Scotia at 7 p.m. Friday and finish pool play Saturday at 11 a.m. against Quebec.

The Sherwood Park A’s, who represent Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick are in the other pool.

The top team in each pool advances to the semifinal while the second and third-place teams cross-over Saturday evening.

The championship final is set for Sunday at 7 p.m.

The opening ceremonies go Wednesday at 6 p.m. with the home run derby at 7 p.m.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at danrode@shaw.ca