Dawgs hoping to repeat some history

Baseball: Okotoks coach feels he has the horses to win

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 06:00 am

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The new coach of the Okotoks Dawgs doesn’t believe in the old axiom those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it.

Brett Thomas was a history major at prestigious Cal-Berkeley and he would love to repeat the history of the Dawgs’ winning another Western Major Baseball League title.

He thinks he’s got the Dawgs to do it thanks to the work in the trenches by Dawgs coaches Allen Cox, AJ Fystro and Val Helldobler.

“Absolutely,” Thomas said. “Val, Allen and AJ have done a really good job of recruiting guys, I just got involved by adding a few more pieces at the end.

“I think we have the pieces to do it.”

Thomas is fully aware of the New-York-Yankee-like expectations in Okotoks. He was a member of the three-peat during their first three years in town 2007 to 2009.

The Dawgs will have plenty of offensive muscle to get things started.

Connor Crane at third base clobbered 14 homers for Lamar College in Colorado to go along with his .380 batting average. He also stole 15 bags.

Meanwhile on the other corner, there’s a player who also wields a hot bat. Six-foot-three Jake Simmerman from Otterbein University “had an unreal year,” Thomas said. “He hit something like .390 (.389) with seven home runs.”

At middle infield, shortstop Dillon Schroeder had impressive numbers at University of Nebraska-Kearney before being injured.

Second baseman Ellis Kelly, who played with Crane at Lamar, has good speed and bat control. He is likely candidate to lead off, for the Dawgs, a duty he performed in Okotoks’ 4-2 loss to the Medicine Hat Mavericks in the season opener on June 1.

“The names can go on and on,” Thomas said. “(Outfielder) Scott Hoyt hit .345 with six home runs at Colorado State-Pueblo.”

Jerod Bartnik is back for his third year with the Dawgs. He will see plenty of action in the outfield.

Eli Roundtree is a speedster from Missouri Baptist and can cover more range in centre-field than a politician door-knocking during a byelection. Roundtree hit .328 for Missou-Baptist and swiped a team-high 28 bases in 49 games.

Behind the plate is Spencer Church from Wayne State and Nebraska Cornhusker Taylor Fish.

The bats will be needed as last year’s team MVP Thomas Rodrigues has been bumped upstairs due to an injury.

“The fortunate thing was it happened early enough so that we can get some guys, but you can’t every replace that kind of player,” Thomas said. “So we will look at kind of the Moneyball aspect of it. A lot of platooning. We only have 14 hitters and nine spots, so there is plenty of at bats to go around.”

Thomas also has pitching to go with his bats.

“We have a lot of good arms,” Thomas said. “Conor Lillis-White’s number at UBC was nuts. Charlie Dant had good numbers at Dayton.”

The Dawgs have a plethora of other talented pitchers who can start, including Chris Sievers from Northeastern Junior College and former Black Dawgs Shawn Andersen and Jake Shaw will provide valuable innings.

Thomas still doesn’t know who will be the Lee-Ingram like closer for the Dawgs.

“That is something we will see in the next couple of days who are the guys who have the mental toughness to do it,” Thomas said.

He said possibilities include Shaw and Matt Olsavsky coming out of the pen.

Thomas just wants to get started.

“I am so excited,” to be back in Okotoks,”Thomas said.

“I want to give these guys the same experiences I had when I was here.”


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