Brandon Graham and his Okanagan College Coyotes teammates open the Canadian College Baseball Conference Friday night at Elks Stadium against the Calgary Dinos.

Coyotes ready to howl in 2015

Okanagan College team has high expectations heading into Canadian College Baseball Conference season

In their seven-year history, the best overall showing for the Okanagan College Coyotes has been third place.

Based on what he’s seen so far in 2015, head coach Geoff White sees no reason why his ‘Yotes can’t challenge for their first ever Canadian College Baseball Conference title.

White’s deepest and most experienced team yet will open up the regular season this weekend at Elks Stadium, with two games against the Calgary Dinos and pair against the Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs.

“We have a really good group, the talent and experience level is very good, so I think it’s going to be an exciting year for us,” said White, who has coached the Coyotes since 2008.

White said OC’s pitching staff has improved over the last several years and this season will be led by senior Marcus Drewry. A conference all-star in 2014, the 6-foot-2 right-hander has posted a solid 4-1 record in pre-season.

“He’s a senior and our leader, and we’ll be looking for big things from Marcus.”

In the process of posting a 16-11 exhibition record, White said the Coyotes are showing promise on both offence and defence, thanks in large part to team speed.

“This is a fast team, we have 10 players who can really run, more than we’ve had in the past and that’s a major part of how we’ll play this season,” said White.

White points to lead-off man Tony Olson as a key catalyst for the OC offense. The 5-foot-11 shortstop from Edmonton is off to a “fantastic start,” according to White.

Other key veterans who will be looked to for production and leadership include junior outfielder Brandon Graham from Prince George and infielder Brennan Reidy, a native of Moose Jaw, Sask., who is headed into his senior year.

The unusually warm spring has been a benefit for the Coyotes who have been outside training at Elks Stadium for the last three weeks.

“That really gives you a good head start on things, being able to practise at your home field,” said White. “The guys feel comfortable and are ready to go.”

As the Coyotes program has grown older, White said it has evolved both on and off the field.

“One of the big things is that more and players are sticking around for four years, so we have a lot of experience and leadership,” said White. “We’ve also been able to recruit some junior college transfers and they also add a lot to our team.

“The culture of the program has grown and developed over the years and the players are buying into what we’re doing here.”

The Coyotes will take on the Calgary Dinos at 6 p.m. Friday and again at noon on Saturday.OC will then meet the PBA Dawgs on Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

OC will host both the 2016 and 2017 CCBC championships.