Infielder Croft back in Kelowna
Some of the best days of Josh Croft's baseball career to date were spent on the diamond at Elks Stadium as a member of the Okanagan Athletics.
Now the 19-year-old from Powell River is back for another summer, this time wearing the colours of the West Coast League's Kelowna Falcons.
"I just love this town, I have lots of friends here and I know the Falcons are a great club to play for," said the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Croft. "I thought it would be a good idea to just come back here, try and work on some stuff this summer and hopefully we can pull off a championship."
For two seasons, Croft—along with fellow Falcon and Kelowna native Dawson Yates—was a key figure for the A's, helping lead the Kelowna-based club to a B.C. Premier Baseball League title in 2012.
His play in the PBL earned Croft a scholarship at San Jacinto College in Houston, Texas where he recently finished up an impressive first season of collegiate baseball.
Croft batted .310 with 19 RBIs and was named to the National Junior College Athletic Association regional all-Conference team.
"It was an incredible experience, quite eye-opening for me," said Croft, who played at second base for San Jacinto. "There was a lot of good talent down there, for sure. I was really impressed with a lot of players I played against, I got to watch a lot of good prospects, and I learned a lot. I'm excited to go down there again next year."
Falcons GM Mark Nonis is excited to have a local player of Croft's talent and potential on the roster.
"Josh did really well down in Texas, he's a definitely a good athlete in the infield, and plays the game hard," said Nonis. "It's nice to have him, he's going to be an asset and play a role on our team this year."
In addition to the surroundings at Elks Stadium, Croft is also familiar with several faces, including that of former A's teammate Yates, as well as UBC players Kevin Biro and Joel Lamont.
Croft lived with Biro in Parksville where the two were teammates in high school, while Lamont and Croft played together in elementary school.
"It's nice to know some people, to feel comfortable wherever you go, it makes things a little bit easier," said Croft. "They're good guys so it'll be nice to play with them this summer."
And what would Croft like to accomplish in his first season of summer ball in the West Coast League
"I just really want to develop some skills, meet some new people and see where I want to be in the next few years kind of judge myself based on the better players I see…and see where it goes from there."
Croft and the Falcons open the 2014 West Coast League season Friday at 6:35 p.m. at Elks Stadium against the Victoria Harbourcats. In staying with tradition, the home opener features free admission, courtesy of Telus.