Kelowna's Okanagan College looks to the future with minor baseball tournament
The Kamloops midget AAA baseball team may have walked away as the champion of last weekend's Norm Caig Invitational Baseball Tournament in Kelowna, but the big winner was likely the future of the Okanagan College baseball program.
OC hosted 10 midget or Junior Premier Baseball League teams from around the province last weekend in its second annual Norm Caig tournament, featuring players in Grades 9, 10, and 11 as OC looks for future talent for its college baseball program.
"It's a chance for us to bring in mainly players that are two years away from potentially playing for Okanagan College," said OC head baseball coach Geoff White. "It's a chance for the players to come in and see our facility at Elks Stadium, now that we have the batting cages and the stadium is getting renovated. It makes it easy for us to see roughly 180 young baseball players."
The four day tournament featured teams from around the Okanagan as well as the rest of the province, including the Okanagan Junior Athletics, who were 2-and-2 in the event and failed to make the playoffs.
For White there was plenty of good baseball talent to watch over, even if at times it was a little raw.
"There was some good baseball," he said. "The players are mostly in Grade 9 and 10 so they are still learning the game. It's important for us to get a jump on recruiting. We're trying to work two years ahead on recruiting so we know what players are coming up and we know what players we are going to go after. It's about finding the top recruits in the province."
The Coyotes are now in their off-season after finishing up the spring Canadian Colleges Baseball Conference season by missing the playoffs in the CCBC championship tournament. The program will begin again with its fall schedule when school gets back into session and White expects to return as many as 15 players from the 25 man roster that competed this season.
A few players will stay in town and play with the Kelowna Jays including Kelowna players Mike Monster and Mike Tongue while short-stop Brian Elias is hoping to crack the lineup for the Kelowna Falcons after being named a second team all star at the CCBC tournament.
White says the OC baseball program—which will move into its fifth full year this fall—is getting established and known right across Canada.
"I think we've got to a point now where it's going to be strong moving ahead," he said. "We're getting more and more players from across the country. We're attracting better talent. The program is really developing. We offer a competitive schedule and we are getting opportunities to play against the top programs in the United States. Those teams want to play us year in and year out."
During the off-season the Coyotes will hold three different summer baseball camps for your players beginning July 3 with its Coyotes Super Camp for mosquito aged players and continuing July 16 (peewee and up) and July 23 (all ages). You can find more information and register at www.okanagancollegebaseball.ca.