Tigers striving to be West’s best, again

The South Okanagan Minor Baseball Association Tigers may be challenged to remain the Best of the West.

SOMBA Tiger Cole Depner worked on his bunts during a practice at the Adidas Sportsplex where the team prepared for their season before returning outdoors.

SOMBA Tiger Cole Depner worked on his bunts during a practice at the Adidas Sportsplex where the team prepared for their season before returning outdoors.

The South Okanagan Minor Baseball Association Tigers may be challenged to remain the Best of the West.

After winning the tournament they hosted last year a revamped roster could make things interesting as the Tigers begin their championship defence today.

Brett Fleming said the team is looking decent as they open the tournament against the PBF Redbirds from Calgary at McNicoll Park at 9 a.m.

“We have some rust with new players,” said Fleming, a pitcher and third baseman for the Tigers. “I think we will do pretty well.”

The new additions include Kyle Hunt, Paul Pereversoff, Raphael Jackson and Sean Peters. Returning are Cole Depner, Eric Maurer, Ryohei Ito, Fleming and Nick Bravi. Graduates from last year were J.J. d’Aoust, Ryo Shishido, Brendan Clarke and Dylan Schumacher. Arron Albano, Dylan Ames, Eythan Brown and Lucas Romano are not playing this year. Tanner Collins and Kyle Peters are playing in the B.C. Premier Baseball League with the Okanagan A’s and the Abbotsford Cardinals respectively.

What Fleming likes is that the group is showing early chemistry and he feels the group will get better as the year goes on. On the shoulders of Fleming other returning players will be showing the new players the way. One of the things Fleming is excited to see during the weekend is how some of the Bantams will fare as the team plans to use three affiliate players. The team is missing a few players who are away on holidays.

As the Tigers did their warm ups at McNicoll Park on Wednesday, Deleon said his team will be competitive this weekend.

“I’m pretty confident in the group,” said Deleon. “The group seems eager.”

However, Deleon said the depth isn’t as strong as last year. As long as winter has been, Deleon is eager to get things going. Once the Best of the West tournament concludes, the Tigers head on a coastal trip to Cloverdale and Whiterock.

The Tigers coach intends to use this weekend to figure out what each player’s role will be. Some players are likely to play multiple positions.

“The strength of this team is how they have gelled in a quick time frame,” said Deleon. “A lot of guys didn’t do winter ball because of other commitments.”

The Tigers play their second game Friday at 4:30 p.m. against the Tri Cities Indians at McNicoll Park. On Saturday they will face the Richmond Chuckers at 9:30 a.m. at Carmi Field. A skills competition will take place at McNicoll at 2:30 p.m. followed by semifinal action at 4:15 p.m. Sunday will have consolation games at 9:30 a.m. The championship game will be at 12:30 p.m.