Athletics' Young leads by example
With due respect to all the players he's coached, Evan Bailey would gladly take a team full of Jared Youngs.
An 18-year-old infielder/pitcher with the B.C. Premier Baseball League's Okanagan Athletics, Young is second on the club in hitting this season with a .354 average and has added a team-high 15 RBIs.
And after some early-season arm problems, the Prince George product has returned to the mound where he earned his first win of the season last weekend against Whalley.
But stats and numbers aside, Bailey said the 6-foot-2, 165-pound Young is pretty much the complete package every head coach looks for.
"There have been times where he's carried our team this season," Bailey said of Young. "Jared's not the most vocal guy, he really leads more by example. Just the way he carries himself, he's a class act and just looks like a ball player.
"He's a guy with tons of ability, he's a real spark plug for us," added Bailey, "and he's constantly helping out our younger guys. Jared's a pleasure to coach."
Raised in Prince George, Young wanted to take his baseball to another level, and last season decided to make the move south to Kelowna to play in one of Canada's elite midget-aged leagues.
"Evan talked to me and I really liked him, so I thought I would move here for Grade 12 (last year) and see how things worked out," said Young. "Evan's a good guy to play for, I really enjoyed being on the team and with the guys, so I was happy to come back again this season."
Like so many athletic youngsters growing up in Canada, Young also played hockey—but in the end the natural lure of baseball won out.
"When I was about 14, I decided baseball was the way I wanted to go," Young said. "It's really always been my main sport and I felt I was probably a little better at it than hockey, so that's the way I went."
The baseball program at Minot State also recognized Young's skill and aptitude on the diamond and rewarded him with a scholarship. Young will suit up for the NCAA Div. 2 squad in North Dakota next season.
"I'm excited," Young said of playing at Minot State. "I've talked to the coach there quite a bit and hopefully I'll get a chance to play. I'm looking forward to trying to take my game to the next level."
Still, until that time comes, Young insists he's focused on a more immediate task—helping the Athletics win and getting them into the 2014 playoffs.
"We've got a young team, only five of us returning, but we've shown we're pretty competitive with the best teams in the league," said Young. "If we can put together some wins and beat the teams we should, then I don't think a top four or five finish is out of the question."
Young and the Athletics will host the Nanaimo Pirates for four games this weekend at Elks Stadium.
Saturday's doubleheader begins at 3 p.m., with Sunday's twin bill to begin at 10 a.m.
The A's are 10-10 on the season after taking three of four games from the Whalley Chiefs in Surrey, as Young drove in five runs and picked up a win on the mound. Matt Brodt went 5-for-9 at the plate, while Trevor Lofstrom and David Tongue also earned wins.