COCHRANE— After successful seasons, two teams under the Cochrane Minor Ball umbrella are off to provincials this weekend from Aug. 20 to 22.
The U13AA team is heading to Spruce Grove in Edmonton for the provincial championships, while the U15AAA boys will be playing in Calgary.
Head coach of the U13AA boys and president of Cochrane Minor Ball, Corey O’How said he’s been impressed by the team’s season, and their ability to keep up with the demanding schedule.
“The season has been really good, busy I guess you could say. We’ve played quite a few days— We usually play four games a weekend. The kids have been getting in a lot of ball,” he said. “It’s been a good season, it’s been long, the kids have worked hard.”
After a short, cohorted season last year, the team took a while to get back into competitive form, but O’How said, in recent weeks the games have been heating up as the players have become more used to the intensity that competition demands.
“Over the last few weeks, the kids have really rounded into pre-COVID form, and found that competitive fire again and their competitive edge. We’ve really seen that over the last week,” O’How said. “The kids’ kind of missed last year with baseball, and the kids who played football missed that, and the kids who played hockey missed that. It’s kind of been over a year without that real competitiveness, so it took a while to get back into that groove and find that form again.”
It has been easier to find the motivation to play hard this year, O’How said. With the promise of a championship series at the end of the season, the players have something to look forward to compared to last year, which ended unceremoniously for many of the teams.
“With the provincials, that’s kind of what we always play for and gear up for. Having that at the end of the year again, it’s great, it gives the kids something to strive for,” he said.
O’How said the U13 boys ramped their play up even more in their final two games of the season on Wednesday (Aug. 11).
“We had two really good games against one of the best teams in the league, we beat them 16-10 in the first game, and then lost a 3-2 game,” he said. “It was really fun and you could see the competitive tension in the air between the two teams. It was just a lot of fun to see the kids go head to head like that.”
Seeing that intensity in their final pair of games before provincials and the team’s success all season long, O’How said he feels good about their chances this weekend in Edmonton.
“I feel really good, we’ve taken on the best teams in the league and we’ve done really good. We have a really good group of kids, a core of them who have played together for quite a while now, and we have a lot of talented kids and kids who work really hard, and kids who have played in a lot of provincial championships already for how old they are.” he said. “I think that will be a big advantage for our kids going into the weekend.”
O’How said he expects that the U15AAA boys will also perform very well in their provincial championship games as well.
“They’ve had a good season too. I think they had a bit of a slow start, but they’ve really come out as of late, and I think that really says a lot about the program that we’ve created here. It’s a lot of fun to see the two age groups and how good they’re doing this year,” he said.
The success of the two teams has made waves in the baseball world, and O’How said he feels Cochrane Minor Ball has been getting recognition in the community for the quality calibre of players they have been producing in the last few years.
“We’ve relatively new to the baseball world kind of over the last five or six years, but I think, in Little League and Baseball Alberta, they’re taking notice of Cochrane as a hotbed of baseball players.”