The Kentville junior Wildcats celebrate their walk-off 7-6 win over Hantsport.
The Kentville junior Wildcats may have fallen short in their final two regular season games against Dartmouth, but coaches Lyle Boylen and Derek Atwater are pleased with the team’s inaugural season.
“Derek and I are quite happy with the season we’ve had,” Boylen said. “As one could see (in 12-0 and 7-2 losses to Dartmouth), we have times we are inconsistent and play poorly.”
At the same time, he said, “there have been times, like the national elimination tournament semifinal (a 2-1 loss to Dartmouth) when we have played very well.”
Longer bench needed
Along with the usual problems associated with a first-year team, Kentville’s biggest problems this year have been a lack of depth and the absence of a full-time catcher, he added.
Given the amount of players who have to balance work commitments with playing and practice time, it’s made it clear to Boylen that a bigger roster is needed.
Boylen is hopeful affiliating with the senior Wildcats next year will help draw more players to their club.
With no junior baseball in Kentville prior to this season, the senior Wildcats have chosen to affiliate with the Tri-County juniors the past couple of years.
Boylen said he has heard rumours that with several players on their roster in their final year of junior eligibility, Tri-County will attempt to field a senior team in 2015.
The Wildcats finished the regular season with a record of 9-9-1, which Boylen felt, overall, was “pretty good for a first-year team, and a good indication of our overall season. We lose only one player to age, so the future for this club looks good.”
The Nova Scotia 21U provincials are set for Aug. 22-24 in Dartmouth. The host team, Boylen said, “has clearly separated itself from the rest as the top club in the junior league, and will be considered the favourite.”
Tri-County, with its veteran roster, also has a talented team, and lost to Dartmouth in the final of the national elimination tournament. The Wildcats, Boylen said, would probably fall right behind them in terms of positioning.
The Nova Scotia Youth Selects, the 17U provincial team, is also being allowed to compete at 21U provincials, adding another solid club to the mix.
Boylen hopes Kentville can make it to a semifinal.
“If everything falls right, we are capable of pulling off an upset,” he said.
“Win or lose, the group of players we have this season are a great bunch of guys to spend the summer with, and one of the best groups Derek and I have ever had. We hope the team stays together, and with a few key additions, we could have a club to compete with Dartmouth going forward.”