Tate Larson was among seven South Okanagan Minor Baseball Association players who played well for the West Kelowna D-Backs in the College Prep League in B.C. Minor Baseball. Mark Brett/Western News

SOMBA Tigers step up with D-Backs

Former Tigers fill roles well with West Kelowna College Prep team

A rebuilding year for the West Kelowna D-Backs was highlighted by positive play from Penticton players.

Seven members of the South Okanagan Minor Baseball Association helped fill out the D-Backs roster this year in the College Prep League of B.C. Baseball.

“We were really happy with the way they performed,” said Aqil Samuel, who assisted D-Backs coach Tom Kalentikoff.

The D-Backs picked up bantam AA Tigers Cole Boczulak, AJ Reiter, Aden Samuel, Tate Larson, Seth Kennedy and midget AA players Monty Tebbutt and Jacob Oberik.

“It was a big learning curve for all seven. They really stepped up,” said Samuel.

The D-Backs won six of 37 games and went 13 and 36 overall to finish last in the nine-team league. Samuel said the goal for next season is to win half of their games and be a top-five team. Samuel doesn’t have illusions of how difficult it will be saying they will need 14 more wins.

“It wasn’t an easy year. We asked a lot from them,” said Samuel, adding the younger players jumped three levels to play with the D-Backs. “It’s only going to bode well for next year. They just have to get bigger, faster and stronger. That extra year of development is really important.”

Six players from Penticton will return and Samuel said it’s possible more will make the team. It’s become a good partnership to have players from both cities, especially since Samuel said West Kelowna doesn’t have enough players to field a full squad at that level.

Reiter had the second best batting average at .388, while collecting 11 runs batted in. Tebbutt was right behind with a .382 average and 13 RBIs. Kennedy had a .359 average.