Quinte Royals 14U coach Chad Crawford is confident his team is up for the challenge of not only competing at the Ontario Baseball Association provincial championships Labour Day weekend, but also at home.
One of the biggest challenges, Crawford noted, will be matching up the Royals’ pitchers and defensive lineup against unfamiliar teams.
“We can get a sense of some things through the pitching app that we use but it isn’t the same as when you can get an actual report from one of the teams that we know that may have played them in a tournament,” Crawford said. “I also imagine there will be some nerves that come into play with having more friends and family at the games then we normally do.”
The 16U Baseball Ontario championship will also be contested locally and the two divisions will split diamond time at Rotary Park in Belleville. 14U games will also be played in Melrose at the Tyendinaga Recreation Complex on diamonds 1 and 3 and the Royals are looking forward to it.
“Although we have drawn larger crowds playing at Rotary on Wednesday nights and Bayshore on Saturdays, most of the players are excited to play in front of even the larger home crowds and to play teams we do not regularly see while once again competing for a provincial championship,” Crawford said.
Quinte 14U Royals team members are Kalen Banks, Taite Crawford, Ryan Dunn, Logan Fonger, Trip Harvey, Seth Martin, Lorne Miles, Nathan Miron, Jayden Pembleton, Jensen Shaver, Norah McGuinness, Charlie Vos, Avery Longwell and Hayden Parent. Joining Chad Crawford on the staff are Chris Martin, Matt Miron and Chad Harvey.
While the season didn’t go quite as expected for the team, the Royals did finish with a shortened regular season record of 11-5-1 in Eastern Ontario Baseball Association play.
“We’ve had a few big injuries that we have had to work around so that has put a learning curve on some of the players as they try to fill into the roles as required to help the team succeed this season,” Crawford said, noting the last remaining injured player just returned.
“Outside of the injuries the season has gone relatively well considering,” Crawford noted. “We were consistently in the top three teams in the 14U EOBA division among all classifications based on winning percentage. Rainouts the last two weeks of the season prevented us from completing all of the games and firmly cementing our overall spot this season.”
Crawford believes the Royals would have been seeded No. 1 in the recent EOBA playdowns, but the team was ineligible to compete due to hosting the provincial championship.
Hitting has been a key area of strength for the 14U Quinte club this season, especially with runners on base, outscoring opponents by 111 runs.
Injuries hindered the pitching staff, but all are expected back by Labour Day and Crawford said the pitchers have gotten comfortable with the increase in distance this year.
“Most of the players are able to give us multiple innings now which is going to help as we manage the arm care rules to get us through seven games,” he said.
Overall, Crawford said the coaching staff looks forward to see this team get another shot at an OBA championship.
“Even though we aren’t at 100 per cent of what they are able to do because of the injuries, they are still a good solid team that shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone,” he said.
And Crawford hopes the Quinte area will show up to support the 14U Royals. The Labour Day weekend tournament should provide an enjoyable experience for participants and spectators.
“Our planning committee has been working hard to make this tournament something special for all teams to remember and have added a few extra surprises for all of the participants this year that should add to their experience and hopefully make this OBA tournament one that everyone remembers,” Crawford said.
“There is a draw for a custom wooden bat voucher from Limestone Bat company that will be drawn that weekend and tickets are $5 each so a very affordable way to possibly win a great bat for your player.
“A big thanks to the City of Quinte West parks crew who have worked miracles to get us on the diamonds after the storms this season,” Crawford added.
Announced teams joining the Royals for the OBA provincials are Ancaster, Niagara Falls, Windsor, Kingston, Waterloo, Toronto Playground, Baytown, Bloordale, Waterdown, North London and Orillia.
Quinte opens the OBA tournament Friday at 4 p.m. against Waterdown at Melrose fields.
Check out the schedule and results at: quinteroyalsbaseball.com/quinteroyals/14UOBAScheduleandResults