Sports

Pair of White Rock pitchers ink scholarship deals

White Rock Tritons’ Alex Webb, shown sliding during a 2010 fall league game, will take his talents to UBC next baseball season. - File photo
White Rock Tritons’ Alex Webb, shown sliding during a 2010 fall league game, will take his talents to UBC next baseball season.
— image credit: File photo

The BC Premier Baseball League season is only a few weeks old, but already a pair of White Rock Tritons have their futures on the diamond sorted out.

Earlier this month, Adam Shumka and Alex Webb – both pitchers – each signed agreements to play college baseball next season, Shumka with Corban College, an NAIA school in Salem, Ore., and Webb with the University of B.C. Thunderbirds.

It also means both Tritons’ hurlers, who’ve been teammates from their Little League days and up through the Junior Tritons and Tritons’ systems, will be on opposite sides of the field next year, as UBC also plays in the NAIA, although in a different conference than the Corban Warriors.

And though they’ll be rivals next spring, Shumka, insists there’s been no trash talk – at least not so far.

“No, nothing like that yet. We’re still teammates and good buddies for now, but we’ll see if that changes next season,” he laughed.

Shumka, a White Rock native and Grade 12 student at Pacific Academy, signed his letter of intent on Easter weekend but said he had been weighing offers from a few American schools. He ultimately decided on Corban College because of its coaching staff and proximity to home.

“I just really like the coaching staff they have there, and I also thought that Oregon would be a pretty cool place to go to school,” he said Monday.

“It’s far enough away that it’s still exciting and feels like I’m going away for school, but close enough that I’m still close to home, and my family can see me play.

“It’s also a good league, and the conference has a lot of good teams in it.”

With the Tritons having such a busy schedule this week – they played three times, all on the road, from Sunday to Tuesday – Webb, a Semiahmoo Secondary student, could not be reached, but Tritons’ coach Russ Smithson, who has coached both Webb and Shumka the last three years, dating back to the Junior Tritons, was proud of both his pitching proteges.

“I think it’s great, both guys have put in a lot of hard work over the years,” Smithson said. “I’ve had them both for a while now, and that’s the cool thing – as a coach, I get to see them have this success.”

He was confident both would excel at the college level, and said both are what scouts often refer to as “high-ceiling players” – prospects who still have a lot of room to grow.

“They both have good velocity (on their pitches). Alex throws in the high 80s already, and Adam is in the mid-80s,” Smithson said. “And I think they were probably signed as much for their potential as anything – they can both be very good players.”

Though the Tritons have got off to a slow start this season, Shumka has been the team’s most reliable pitcher. He’s 1-1, and in 13 innings has 11 strikeouts, just five walks and an earned-run average of just 1.08, which is among the best marks in the PBL among starting pitchers.

“He’s had two really good starts for us this year,” Smithson said. “Him and Alex both give us a lot of quality innings.”

Webb, who at six-foot-three and 210 pounds is a commanding presence on the mound, has pitched in just one game through the Tritons’ first five, lasting five-and-one-thirds innings in an April 10 loss to the Langley Blaze, whose own pitcher, Jon Bauer, threw a no-hitter.

With their college decisions behind them, Shumka was looking forward to focusing solely on his last season with the Tritons, in which he’s hoping to lead them to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.

Last year, with the final playoff spot on the line, Shumka and his mates lost a one-game showdown to the Okanagan Athletics, and he admits he’d like to make amends for the loss.

“The year before that, with the Junior Tritons, we lost a play-in game, too, so it’d be really nice to have a good season and not have to worry about squeezing into (the post-season),” he said.

“I’ve played with some of these guys since Little League, and next year, it’s going to be a little weird not knowing the guy standing beside me at practice, but it’ll be a good challenge and I’m looking forward to it.

“But since this is our last year together here, it’s nice that we can just go out there and play, and hopefully make it to the final four (in playoffs).”

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