By Lyle Carter
Jennifer Dunning had done her share of cheering and watching from the sidelines since last coaching baseball six years ago.
But that changed earlier this season when she joined the Truro Bearcats AA midget squad.
"The lack of available coaches is the reason I returned," said Dunning. "It took a bit of time for the players to warm up to having a woman coach. I think they had to understand that I know the game and that I have a real passion for baseball."
The Bearcats have just one win and six losses in Bluenose Baseball League action to date, but they made a good showing last weekend in the Bedford Days Baseball Tournament, finishing 2-2 and reaching the semifinals.
Dunning has set a goal to help bring baseball back in Truro.
"I'd like to see good things happen in baseball," said the Truro resident. "I want the kids to have fun but I also want to see them develop a competitive edge and have a desire to play baseball for years to come."
Dunning starred in the Victoria Park Little League during her youth. Competing against the boys, she made the league all-star team twice.
"That was probably the highlight as far as my baseball went," Dunning recalled. "Overall, there were over 100 players from the Truro area who tried out each year for the all-star team. It was quite a thing being picked."
By the time she reached her teens, however, there was no place for her to continue playing.
"I kept on loving baseball though" she said. "I kept an eye on the game and I was more than happy when my son Brandon wanted to play baseball."
Brandon, 18, is both a catcher and a pitcher with the Bearcats, which is somewhat of a rarity.
"As a catcher, you see the whole field," he said. "By studying the batter's stance I like to think that I can tell if he has a weakness hitting a certain pitch."
"(Pitching) kind of gives you the option to control the game I enjoy the pressure of getting locked up in a pitcher's duel."
Brandon and Tyler Whidden are the two local players who are in their last season in midget baseball.
"Earlier this season, we weren't doing very well," said Brandon. "But Tyler and I, and all the other guys, want to help this team be successful. It's very important to have fun, but by climbing higher in the standings, it's better for everyone."
Cameron MacKenzie, 16, plays third base and pitches for the Bearcats.
"It has gone really well having a woman coach," said MacKenzie. "A big factor is Jennifer knows her baseball."
MacKenzie, who throws right and bats right, has played baseball for several years.
"I've grown up with the game and played it my whole life," he said. "Baseball is a big part of my summer.
"We're improving every game and we're beginning to come together as a team. I plan to play here again next year and I think we'll be even stronger."
The Bearcats play their home games at 6.15 p.m. on Wednesday nights at the TAAC Grounds. The local club is sponsored by MacKenzie's Mobile Equipment.
Next week, we'll look at several midget baseball players who have gone outside Colchester County to play this summer.
Lyle Carter's sports column appears every Saturday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 673-2857.