The West Kelowna D-Backs baseball team will have a distinct Penticton flavour this season.
Seven players (Jacob Obirek, Monty Tebbutt, Seth Kennedy, A.J. Reiter, Tate Larson, Aiden Samuel and Cole Boczulak) join a D-Backs program that graduated four players to college from the B.C. Baseball College Prep League last season. With Penticton not able to offer a midget AAA program, Aqil Samuel, past-president of the South Okanagan Minor Baseball Association, contacted manager Tom Katelnikoff about Penticton players trying out. They attended fall ball last year and winter camps.
“All our kids showed really well,” said Samuel.
Samuel said the local association and West Kelowna have worked closely together It’s a relationship he said is good for both sides.
“It helps them too. They were really low on numbers on the midget side,” said Samuel, adding that with smaller organizations, that needs to be done.
Samuel added it is important for the Penticton products to get this opportunity. Since the board removed coach Junior Deleon a few years ago, they haven’t had the opportunity to bring the program back. It is something that has been tried, but Samuel said there are several moving pieces. To him, combining the organizations is only going to help.
“I can’t imagine putting a team in midget AAA in Penticton this year with how young we would have been,” he said. “Much too big of an undertaking. Mix the two associations and field a more competitive team.”
Samuel added SOMBA is very strong in mosquito, peewee and bantam levels. He feels that group could potentially bring back midget AAA. In the meantime he said this seems like a good compromise.
The D-Backs opened the season at Carmi Field in Penticton on April 9 since fields in West Kelowna were not available. The D-Backs lost to the Cloverdale Nationals 10-3 and 17-1. The team also made a trip to Arizona two weeks ago and played six games in a tournament.