It’s been a busy time for Blair Mulder.
The 18-year-old from Lacombe was a solid contributor in the Red Deer Optimist Rebels run to the Alberta Midget Hockey League championship and the Pacific Regional title. He was one of four regular defencemen as the Rebels finished fifth in the Canadian championships in Levis, Que.
Less than a week after returning from Quebec, Mulder was on the field with the Red Deer Carstar midget AAA Braves baseball squad.
“It has been busy. Hockey was just done and I jumped right into hockey . . . it’s a big change, you have to get used to everything again as half the stuff you’re doing with hockey has nothing to do with baseball,” said Mulder. “You have to get back into a rhythm.”
Hitting is one thing as you’re still using your hand-eye coordination in hockey. Pitching is another matter.
Mulder showed both sides Saturday afternoon as the Braves split a Norwest Midget Baseball League twin bill with the Edmonton Cardinals II at Great Chief Park.
Mulder had a single, two triples and drove in six runs as the Braves downed the Cards 12-6 in the opener, then he started on the mound in the nightcap and gave up five runs in the first inning as the Braves dropped a 10-2 decision.
“I only threw a couple of times before today and it showed,” said Mulder, who didn’t allow a hit, but walked six to go with an error and two wild pitches. “I wasn’t sharp. Everything was different with my hand. I just couldn’t get comfortable with the seams. I don’t have any callouses yet.”
Mulder knows things will get better for the Braves, who resemblehis hockey team to a degree.
The Rebels went into the season as underdogs with only two returning players.
“On paper we weren’t expected to win,” said Mulder. “In fact we were young and had only a couple of (WHL) drafted players. But we stuck together as a team. It was disappointing in Quebec, we felt we could have done better, but we make some untimely errors.”
Plus the Rebels were shorthanded on the blue-line.
“We were on the ice every second shift,” said Mulder. “The loss of our captain (Kirsten Odendaal) hurt and we were using a forward (Nathan Dennis) on defence at times and he did a good job, but we did wear out.”
Mulder does look back now and realize the Rebels had an excellent season.
He believes the Braves will as well.
“We have a young team and don’t have the depth we had last year, but by the end of the year we’ll be fine.”
The Braves are playing a bit shorthanded with catcher Curtis Mazukewich not back from Vauxhall and Taze Steeves and Reid Stoyberg still injured.
Mulder is in his third season with the Braves, while he played one year with the Rebels. He grew up in Lacombe and played bantam baseball and hockey before switching to Red Deer. On the hockey side he played a year with the 15-year-old program in Red Deer before moving back to Lacombe for a year.
Mulder will finish his midget baseball and hockey career this season and hopes to play in the Alberta Junior Hockey League next season.
“I’ve talked with Bonnyville and Spruce Grove and received letters from a number of teams,” he said.
He would like to get a scholarship down the road, in either baseball or hockey.
“It doesn’t matter, the main thing is to get my schooling,” he said.
As for which sport he likes the best, that depends on what time of the year it is, he said.
“I always look forward to baseball season, it’s another sport I enjoy, but by the end of the season I’m looking forward to hockey” said Mulder, who plays the outfield when not on the mound.
Corbyn Shields and Brady Porter added a pair of hits for the Braves in the opening game. Mark Fay started on the mound and worked four innings, allowing four runs. Jonah Penner went the final three, allowing two runs.
The Braves put the game away with five runs in the sixth inning to grab a 12-6 lead.
In the nightcap, the Cardinals managed just four hits while the Braves finished with six.
Shields came on after Mulder and allowed two runs — one earned — on two hits in four innings and Porter gave up a pair of unearned runs on two hits in one inning of work.Porter had a single, double and a walk while Cal Ireland had a double.
The Braves return to action Wednesday in Okotoks against the Foothills Black while Saturday they host St. Albert in a twin bill starting at noon at Great Chief Park.