Sports

Junior Athletics to host big prospects baseball tournament at Elks Stadium

They may not have as many wins as losses to start the season but the Okanagan Junior Athletics appear to be playing well heading into a big Kelowna baseball tournament this weekend.

The Junior Athletics will play host at the 2nd Annual Norm Caig Invitational Baseball Tournament this weekend in Kelowna, hitting the field at Elks Stadium under the watchful eye of coaches and management from the Okanagan College Coyotes baseball team.

At 2-and-10 so far in the B.C. Junior Premier Baseball League, the Junior A's are off to a slow start but recent play has indicated they are turning it around, as evidenced by a second place finish at a tournament in Okotoks, AB earlier this month.

"Our record doesn't show how well we have been playing," said Junior Athletics coach Pablo Ramirez. "All of our kids have been playing really well. We are a young team and they need more experience."

Experience will be at hand at the Norm Caig tournament, an event that was started by the Okanagan College Coyotes as they look for future baseball talent.

"The Coyotes started this tournament to bring together a collection of young baseball talent from all over B.C. to give them an opportunity to play different teams in a great stadium, under the lights, to showcase their talents in a competitive tournament atmosphere," said team manager Bill Bayne. "The OC coaching staff will also get the opportunity to assess the talent base that they will be recruiting from either currently or a couple of years down the road."

The tournament started modestly last May Long Weekend with just six teams but this year has grown to 10 with many good teams coming to Kelowna. It features four Okanagan teams plus six teams from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. Along with the host Okanagan Junior Athletics, the other local teams are the West Kelowna Diamondbacks, Penticton SOMBA Tigers and the Kamloops River Dogs. Other teams are Victoria Mariners, Whiterock Tritons, North Delta Blue Jays, Cloverdale Spurs, Chilliwack Cougars and Richmond. The teams are either Midget AAA or Junior Premier and range in age from 15 to 18 years old.

Ramirez says it will be a good test for the Junior A's.

"Our goal is to keep developing and getting better," he said. "We will be playing against teams that are older and that's really good for our guys. That's the only way to get better is playing against better competition."

The tournament will see teams play a round robin within their division with the top two from each division advancing to the playoffs. There will be a total of 23 games played with 18 at Elks Stadium and five at Boucherie Field in West Kelowna. The playoff games are Monday at Elks Stadium.

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