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Jason Louis enjoying time with the Riggers

Jason Louis wouldn’t consider himself a power hitter.

“I would say I have power. I have the ability to hit the ball out of the yard but it’s hard to say. When I think power hitter, I look at guys like (Toronto Blue Jays) Joey Bats (Jose Bautista) and (Edwin) Encarnacion. That’s what I would consider a power hitter,” laughed the veteran Red Deer Riggers first baseman when asked what kind of player he would consider himself.

“I would say I’m above average on the power but more of a well-rounded type of hitter. I’m able to do a lot more than just hit home runs.”

Louis, who is now in the midst of his third season playing the other hot corner for the Riggers, is leading the Sunburst Baseball League with three home runs in 12 games as his team has leaped out to a spectacular 11-1 start to the season.

“I’ve felt pretty good at the plate. It’s obviously showing and driving in runs and helping the team win, so I feel pretty good about that,” remarked the 33-year-old.

For Louis, baseball has been a nearly lifelong passion, but he didn’t always want to be a baseball player.

“I started playing when I was probably about 12. I grew up playing hockey from the outset, so I was a hockey player before I ever played organized baseball and, really, baseball was always the number one once I got into it,” he remembered, adding although he pitched a little bit in his high school days and had a few stints in the outfield in college, he has pretty much always gravitated towards first base.

“First base was always my primary position. You get used to playing in the position. I’ve always tried to work on being strong defensively and being able to pick the ball and help the team get outs.

“I wasn’t really built for speed, so that’s probably another reason. I don’t have to try and chase fly balls down too much,” he laughed.

Louis, a member of the Samson Cree Nation and grew up in Maskwacis, played AAA baseball throughout Bantam and Midget before making the decision to head south of the Canada-U.S. border to attend Junior College at the College of the Desert in Riverside County, California.

After two years playing varsity baseball at COD, Louis earned a scholarship to the University of California-Stanislaus to play NCAA Division II baseball at the school and pursue his BA-Communications.

“I played two years at junior college in the Palm Springs area right after high school. Then after junior college I got a scholarship to the Cal State University and had a couple of good years there and graduated, so it’s a really good experience,” he said, adding that he graduated in 2005.

“I got to experience life down south and living in California and what that was all about. It was good times.”

During his time at CSUS, Louis became a key player in the Stanislaus State Warriors’ lineup, eventually earning himself a spot on the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) All-Conference Team twice, once in 2004 and 2005, and being named the CSUS Co-Male Athlete of the Year in his graduating year.

After university, Louis decided to take a step back from the game for a couple of years, but eventually, after a three year absence from the game, he found himself back on the diamond playing competitive ball with a Men’s AA club in Edmonton, although he was living in Red Deer at the time.

“I think it’s just — you know – everybody has a sport, I think. Baseball was always my sport. I just love hitting, so being able to continue to compete and to help the team win is why I keep doing it,” Louis said when asked why he continues to play the game.

It was during that time in Edmonton that Louis connected with the Red Deer Riggers, his local Senior Men’s AAA baseball team.

“It’s kind of funny. I’ve lived in Red Deer for six, almost seven years and I was playing ball in Edmonton in another league. I had got picked up for a weekend tournament in St. Albert with the AAA team from Edmonton (the Confederation Park Cubs) and we played the Riggers,” Louis remembered.

During the only game that the Cubs played the Riggers that tournament, he got to talking with a few of the Riggers players.

“I hadn’t played against a lot of the guys when I was younger because they were either too young or older, so I just kind of got to talking. They found out that I lived in Red Deer and I guess the rest is history.”

He joined the team the next season and hasn’t looked back since.

“It’s been a good choice so far. I’ve had a good time. It’s a good group of guys.”

This season, Louis has settled into the cleanup spot in the Riggers’ lineup, leading the team with 17 RBIs and posting a slash line of 0.441/0.675/0.835 at the time of writing.

“I do probably more swinging than taking, I think. I just have always been one of those guys that if you get a first pitch fast ball, swing at it as opposed to getting a strike and battling into the counts. It’s always seemed to work well for me, so I’ve stuck with it,” he said of his approach at the plate, adding that in the dugout he tends not to be one of the more vocal players, but does lend his years of experience when the situation warrants it.

“I’ve always kind of been more of a lead by example person instead of being more vocal. But being a little bit older, I’ve had some years in life and that helps in certain situations. You learn how to react in certain situations as you get older.

“I realize I don’t have too many years left, probably, but I’m gonna have fun while I can still play and enjoy it.”

zcormier@reddeerexpress.com

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