When the Kelowna Sun Devils celebrated the program’s first ever B.C. championship, their memorable 2017 baseball journey wasn’t quite over.
By winning the provincial 18U AAA title last month at Edith Gay Park, the Sun Devils had earned a trip to the U.S. this week for the Northeast Prospect Select Showcase.
Playing as Team B.C., Kelowna is among eight teams—the other seven are American-based—who are competing in the four-day tournament in Rhode Island and Massachusetts where professional and college scouts will be scanning for talent.
Sun Devils’ head coach Rob Law said the opportunity to travel and play in a new and highly competitive baseball environment is the experience of a lifetime for his players.
“It’s the memories and experience of this trip they’ll have with them forever, the real icing on the cake for this season,” Law said Wednesday from Rhode Island. “When you work hard all season and win a championship, this is what you get. The boys deserve it and now they’re going to be challenged by the best in the U.S.”
Playing baseball isn’t the only lasting memory Sun Devils’ players are likely to have of their trip to New England. The team stopped in Boston on Wednesday and was given a 75-minute guided tour of historic Fenway Park.
“The guys all really enjoyed it,” Law said of the visit to Fenway. “They were taking pictures, talking about it with each other about what an amazing place it really is. It’s like they were in baseball heaven.”
Team B.C. also planned to take in a triple-A game on Wednesday night, featuring the Pawtucket Red Sox and Charlotte Knights.
The Sun Devils will open the tournament Thursday morning at UMass-Dartmouth against the Bandits Baseball Club, then will face the Boston Prospects in the evening at the University of Rhode Island.
Law expects the quality of baseball to be a positive eye opener for his team.
“Let’s face it, it’s America’s national pastime, the U.S. produces more players than any country and you see the passion the game here is played with. Our players see how these teams run on and off the field, it doesn’t matter if they’ve just booted a ball, it’s about that effort all the time and shows our players what it takes.
“The (Boston Prospects), every one of those guys are in Grade 12 and a lot are committed to NCAA Div.1 or NAIA programs, so there are some big-time players there. It will be fun to see how we match up.”
Regardless of the results the Sun Devils produce on the diamond, Law said it will be a beneficial experience for each and every one of his players.
“It’s good exposure our Grade 10 and 11 players are going to get,” he said. “For our Grade 12 guys moving on, it’s really a great way to end their careers with our program.”
On Friday, the Sun Devils will play the last of three round-robin games Friday at Rhode Island College.
The playoffs will begin Saturday, with the championship final set for Sunday afternoon.
The Sun Devils, in just their third season as a program, won the B.C. midget AAA championship July 30 in Kelowna with a 6-0 win over Cloverdale.