2009 Larry Walker Division Champion Okanagan College opened fall workouts on August 31st with a new, much younger look. Head coach Geoff White will be a lot busier this year as there are 27 players registered this year compared to the 14 from the startup season. There are a lot of eager fuzzy cheeked young players chomping at the bit to learn, improve and play the highest caliber of baseball possible. As well as the players from Kelowna and BC there are kids from Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario who will make Kelowna their home until the end of May 2010.
The strength of the team will come on the mound with returning pitchers Nick Peruzzo, Rob Alksne, Pete Tollenaar,Blake Young, Bryce Wilkie and the bonus is that RHP Cory Wood, one of the stars of the summer Jays program, has transferred to OC from Vanacouver Island University. The list of recruits also lists some very promising young pitchers. A couple of last years star players have not returned to school and certainly will be missed (Cody Valgardson, Brett Sanguin and Leighton Marshall). Valgardson, one of the top young catchers in Western Canada will be a big loss however recruit Richard Northcott, a big strapping young catcher may be a more than adequate replacement. Fortunately star infielder Corey Smith has returned and will lead the club on the field with his bat, fielding and overall agressive style.
The OC squad are holding 2 a day workouts Aug. 31, Sept. 1 and 2, in preparation for the Grand Forks Tournament, which consists of some very tough semi-pro teams, like Seattle Studs, some major U.S. college teams, such as NAIA 27 time champions Lewis Clark State, and 2009 CCBC champion TRU Wolfpack, and UBC Thunderbirds led by coach Terry Mckaig from Vernon. (see:www.grandforksbaseball.com). OC Plays LC at 11 am on Thursday sept 3, Auburn "A"s at 8 am on Friday and UBC at 11am Sat.
The OC team has a very interesting fall schedule planned for the Kelowna fans, including:
1. OC Fall Classic Tournament - Sept. 25 - 27 - CCBC teams such as OC, Kwantlen, TRU, and Vancouver Island U, all giving the new players and returning veteransa chance to show off their talents, hoping for a starting position when the CCBC spring schedule starts in March. This will be an excellent opportunity to see these college programs at the beginning of school and then to compare with how they play in spring, after 6 months of coaching, training,learning etc.
2. OC High School Showcase Tournament - Oct. 2-4
This is an 8 team tournament made up of BCPBL caliber teams, led by the Kelowna Cubs, with teams from Abbotsford, Victoria, Nanaimo, Ft. McMurray, Calgary, Langley, Parksville and North Delta. The purpose of the tournament is to showcase the up and coming talent from the grade 11 and 12 level, which are prime recuiting age for the CCBC teams (not to mention major league scouts). This will be an excellent weekend of baseball and probably have some future mlb draft picks taking part.
Watch for more info on these exciting events as the schedules will be released shortly.
One other piece of news is that the new OC assistant coach is Kelowna's own Jared (JJ) Johnson. Jared, formerly drafted as a pitcher, has been the star shorstop for the Kelowna Jays the past 2 summers. Jared has a lot of knowledge to share with these young players.
Also joing OC as a part time assistant is the popular Pedro Ibanez, a player from Mexico who moved here 2 years ago and has been a valuable asset to both the Jays and OC programs.
For the complete fall schedule, results of tournament games, and soon all player info will be available. web site: www.okanagancollegebaseball.com