Braves’ goal to challenge top tier

Five runs in three games isn’t enough to win ball games and the Red Deer AAA Carstar Midget Braves lost two of three games over the weekend to start their season. The weekend started with a 2-0 loss in the opener over the Sherwood Park Athletics. After that, the Braves rebounded with a 4-2, but came up short in the third game losing 5-1. First-year midget head coach Dwayne Lalor said the team pitched and played defence well, but couldn’t hit well.

Five runs in three games isn’t enough to win ball games and the Red Deer AAA Carstar Midget Braves lost two of three games over the weekend to start their season.

The weekend started with a 2-0 loss in the opener over the Sherwood Park Athletics. After that, the Braves rebounded with a 4-2, but came up short in the third game losing 5-1. First-year midget head coach Dwayne Lalor said the team pitched and played defence well, but couldn’t hit well.

“We played the game pretty well,” said Lalor. “We didn’t hit well enough to win the weekend. Our defence was solid, our pitching was good and we’re not quite ready to hit yet.

“We want to move up and challenge in the tier 1 ranks. That’s our big goal. We just have to keep getting a little bit better every day.”

The Braves closed out the three game set against the Athletics with a 1-2 record. It was the Braves first games against Norwest League opponents.

Lalor spoke highly of the defence that played well in the first three games.

“We have some pretty good starting pitching and as long as we stay healthy,” said Lalor. “Now its a matter of getting the whole game together and playing how it has to be played.”

In the early part of the season, Lalor thinks the team is in the middle-of-the-pack. But as the season progresses there is the opportunity for the team to move into the top quarter of the league and challenge for provincials.

“We have five new players to the midget AAA level,” he said.

“A third of our roster is new to this level of baseball so it’s going to take a little time to adjust for the guys coming up. They’re playing on a larger field and playing against older players. The adjustment will take a bit of time but we have some pretty good athletes so hopefully it won’t take an extended amount of time.”

Last season the Braves were in tier 2, but Lalor said this time they’re aiming to compete in the tier 1 provincial championship in August. He’s even hoping for a run at “post-provincial play.” More players than in years past have stayed on to play at the midget level and the Red Deer system has one AAA team and two AA teams this season.

As with all of Red Deer Minor Baseball, the midget group has benefited from a boost from the success of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Braves home opener is scheduled for Wednesday against the Okotoks Dawgs Red At Great Chief Park at 6:30 p.m.

“We’ll get a good look at our second team of the year,” said Lalor. “Okotoks usually has a pretty solid team so it should be a good test. We just have to continue to develop and spend more time in the batting cage.”

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