The South Okanagan Minor Baseball Association Tigers are going through a youth movement, but the coach sees it as a good thing.
“The team did get younger this year, but that doesn’t mean we got less talented,” said Junior Deleon. “Our younger boys moving up had some success last season playing bantam AA and look to come up with some momentum.”
Deleon sees the new additions pushing players from last year for starting roles. That motivation will create healthy competition making practices more intense. Among the players the Tigers lost last season were Cole Depner, now playing for the University of Toronto, which won a league championship last season. Nick Bravi is playing with the Okotoks Dawgs, while the Tigers also lost some first year and Kelowna players.
“I have six rookies this year and they are eager to play,” said Deleon.
The goal this season hasn’t changed from any other year. The Tigers want to qualify for provincials and with what Deleon has seen in practice, he believes his group will be a force mid to late season.
“I want to push this group of kids to make them realize that there is so many opportunities when it comes to playing this game,” said Deleon. “Whether it be moving on while still in high school to better programs, move on to college, or even to follow in Dustin’s (Houle) dreams of becoming a pro ball player. I want the kids to see that the harder you push the more rewards you will receive.”
What Deleon has noticed about his group is there aren’t as many stand outs, but a core pushing to be better. Deleon does have expectations for the lower half of the hitting order to come through at key moments.
“The more they get into those situations the more success we will have,” he said.
Tiger notes: Depner was part of the Toronto Blue Jays opening ceremonies this season, which unveiled the massive Canadian flag in the outfield. The following players make up the midget AAA Tigers: Donovan Abbott, Samuel Barker, Matt Brodt, Chase DeCosse, Brad and Brett Fleming, Jade Houle, Matt Jones, Taylor Kanke, Ryan Konno, Tyler Lemke, Paul Pereversoff, Treven Stetsko and Curtis Vennard.