Lamar players loping to Seaman Stadium
Baseball: Dawgs sign two prominent prospects from Colorado
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, May 07, 2014 09:48 am
The Okotoks Dawgs have found some punch and defence thanks to a former opponent who happens to be bullish on baseball in the foothills.
Lamar Community College’s power-hitting Connor Crane and slick-fielding shortstop Ellis Kelly have signed with the Okotoks Dawgs after they received a ringing endorsement from former Lethbridge Bull Michael Oberto.
“He (Oberto, the pitching coach at Lamar) told me how the fans were awesome up there and I heard it was good ball in Canada,” said Crane, a third baseman/first baseman for the LCC Running Lopes out of Lamar, Colorado. “(Dawgs head coach) Brett Thomas actually gave him a call looking for pitchers and he ended up giving Brett my numbers.”
Phoning for pitching help and then picking up the powerful Crane is like asking Wiley E. Coyote to protect the roadrunner.
Crane eats up pitchers.
“They asked for a pitcher and they got a corner infielder,” Crane said with a chuckle. “Corner infielders are kind of known for hitting the long ball and I have tried to live up to that reputation.
“But I don’t like just hitting for power. I like to have a decent average… just being able to see pitchers that last two years at this level has really helped me out.”
The six-foot-three 215-pound Crane leads the Lopes in home runs and RBI with 14 and 59 respectively. He is hitting .426 and has a 14 steals.
Okotoks Dawgs can expect similar punch at Seaman Stadium — it’s not that mile high rarified Colorado air that is putting pop in the bat. Lamar’s altitude is 1,105m not much higher than Okotoks’ 1,050m.
He realizes hitting is just part of the game. Whether you are at first base or the hot corner, Crane knows coach Thomas wants to see some leather flashed out there as well.
“I pride myself on not being ‘just a hit only kind of guy,’’’ he said. “I’m able to make the plays and I can throw it strong across the field.”
The right-handed batter said his secondary goal in Okotoks is to drive the ball to the opposite field more this summer. His primary goal is to help the Dawgs hang another Western Major Baseball League pennant at Seaman Stadium.
“That would be ideal,” he said. “I feel the roster I have looked at so far, we are going to have a real good team.
“I’m excited about it.”
Thomas wasn’t done recruiting at the college near Denver. He also scooped up a smooth fielding shortstop in Ellis Kelly, who signed to play with the Dawgs about two weeks ago.
Sure it took Kelly awhile to land a summer job, but that is his kind of his approach at baseball.
Kelly hits lead-off for the Lopes, and as a result he is the kind of guy who doesn’t mind taking a lot of pitches and whatever it takes to get on base.
“I’m a scrappy player,” Kelly said. “I’m going to work hard and do whatever they want to win.”
Kelly’s scrappiness means he is on base a lot. He has hit .385 for the Lopes and contributed 33 RBI with 14 stolen bases.
Kelly has proved he can swing the bat, but he also hopes to help anchor the Dawgs’ defence at shortstop. He said he has good range and has a solid arm, capable of making the throw from deep in the hole.
The late call from the Dawgs has him hoping for the summer of his young life.
“I can’t wait,” the six-foot, 165-pound shortstop said. “I’ve heard so much about the fans and what the facilities are like up there.”
He does have one other goal besides winning a Western Major Baseball League championship.
He would like to go yard in the friendly confines of Seaman Stadium.
“I haven’t hit a home run yet,” he said with a laugh. “I want to get one up there.”
He has already been challenged to hit a dinger, by Crane, who will likely be his roommate in Okotoks.
“Every once and a while, he will get into one and hit one off the wall, but he doesn’t have a home run yet,” Crane said. “I harass him and tell to finally hit one out.
“He told me he is going to hit one this summer.”
The Dawgs open their WMBL season June 1 on the road when they visit the Medicine Hat Mavericks.
Their first home game is June 5 when the Mavericks — who knocked the Dawgs out of the playoffs last year — come to town at 7 p.m.
For more information go to www.dawgsbaseball.ca or call 403-262-DAWG.