Junior Blaze ready to play ball
The goal is a return to the provincial championship game — albeit with a better result this time — but the Langley Junior Blaze will attempt to do so with pretty much a whole new cast of characters.
The U16 baseball team returns just two players — left-handed pitcher Parker Logan and Dominic Baptista — to a team which was 33-11 and in second place during the 2013 B.C. Junior Premier Baseball League. They lost 7-2 in the championship final to North Shore.
“Our goal is to obviously get back to the provincial championship game,” said Langley coach Brad Kemp.
“Our mindset is to compete in every game and every situation within the game. Our players will hear the word compete continuously as the season goes on.”
Langley begins the 2014 season with a doubleheader on Saturday (April 19) against the Victoria Jr. Eagles. The team’s home opener at McLeod Park is April 26 against the North Delta Jr. Blue Jays.
Kemp said the team’s strength is a strong rotation with a deep bullpen and defence at every position.
Logan was 6-1 in 11 starts and had a 2.53 earned run average in 2013. He will be joined in the rotations by a couple of pitchers who have a winning pedigree: twins Yi An and Yi Fan Pan, who helped lead Langley to the Little League World Series in Williamsport in 2011.
A third member of that team, Cole Cantelon, is also on the Jr. Blaze roster.
“At the plate, we have a deep line-up of hitters that will put pressure on the defence,” Kemp said.
“The power in the lineup will be provided by the bats of Jesse Unger, Markus Gregson and Dominic Baptista.”
Baptista hit .232 with a dozen RBIs in 69 at-bats last season.
Kemp also singled out Broden Bydeweg and Jaron Jeske as a pair of players the coaching staff expects to take control of the team in the locker room and lead the ball club.