After a four-year absence, midget AAA baseball was back in the Central Okanagan in 2012.
The West Kelowna DBacks recently completed their inaugural season in the B.C. Midget AAA Baseball League.
Like any typical fledgling team, the DBacks struggled early, but strung together several wins late in the season to finish ninth in the provincial circuit with a 7-29 record.
D-Backs assistant coach Thomas Katelnikoff said it was important to re-establish the midget AAA game locally to give young players in the area an additional option.
Kelowna hasn’t had a AAA midget squad since the Rutland Rockies in 2008.
“It’s a good competitive brand of baseball, and it’s an alternative to the PBL (Premier Baseball League) where the kids don’t have to make quite the same time commitment,” said Katelnikoff, who is also president of West Kelowna Minor Baseball. “The PBL is a great league, but we think this gives even more kids a chance to play the game at a pretty high level. Baseball is growing in B.C. and there are more kids playing than ever.
“It was a real positive season for us and the kids really enjoyed it.”
Coached by head man Todd Loepkky and Katelnikoff, the DBacks had two players who recently competed with Team B.C. at the Baseball Canada Midget Championships in Quebec.
Shortstop Rees Weninger and pitcher Eric McGinn helped their province to the silver medal as B.C. lost in the championship game to Alberta.
Four DBacks also played in the B.C. Midget AAA all-star game: Weninger, McGinn, Joey Fraser and Brett Loeppky.
The West Kelowna club will have a light fall schedule of between 10 and 15 games.
Then in 2013, Katelnikoff said the DBacks will return for their second season.
“We’re only losing two Grade 12s, so we should have a good core returning,” said Katelnikoff. “It was a good learning year, but we’ll be older and better next season.”
For more information on the DBacks, call Tom at 250-864-2198.