Braves split with Fort McMurray

There was a time prior to the opening of the baseball season when Red Deer Dairy Queen Braves head coach Mike Lyons wondered if they were getting in over their heads by entering in the peewee AAA performance league.

Red Deer Dairy Queen Brave Kelsey Lalor slides into third base before Fort McMurray Ryan Dunn can tag her during peewee AAA action Saturday.

Red Deer Dairy Queen Brave Kelsey Lalor slides into third base before Fort McMurray Ryan Dunn can tag her during peewee AAA action Saturday.

There was a time prior to the opening of the baseball season when Red Deer Dairy Queen Braves head coach Mike Lyons wondered if they were getting in over their heads by entering in the peewee AAA performance league.

“Because of the lack of experience we did discuss dropping down a tier for this year,” said Lyons.

But the coaching staff decided to stay in the AAA level and while they’re not a dominant team they’re certainly no pushovers either.

The Braves saw their league record stand at 3-7 after splitting a doubleheader with Fort McMurray Saturday at West Park — winning 14-13 and losing 7-6.

“Most of the kids have never played near this level and they were intimated a little,” added Lyons. “They have so much to learn and not only do they have to learn it they need the repetitions so it comes natural to them.”

The areas Lyons and his staff work on the most is on defensive consistency and increasing the offensive production.

“We still make too many errors and teams are having big innings against us,” said Lyons. “But the main thing is we need to make our at bats count more. We’re averaging about eight runs per game while the top teams are averaging close to 13 runs. If we start generating those extra runs we’ll be in every game.

“But we’re also twice the team we were when we first talked at the beginning of the season,” continued Lyons.

“There are a lot of things we need to work on, but for the most part the kids are dedicated and that’s what the coaches want.”

Lyons, who has Mark Kryczka and Dwayne Lalor on his coaching staff, has only one returnee from last year’s AAA squad — Brendan Baker — on his 12 player roster.

Four players — Kelsey Lalor, Carter O’Donnell, Bradley Pope and Ethan Ropcean — played mosquito last season while Brody Kalinowski is playing his first year of competitive baseball and Travis Imber played House League last season.

David Coley, Kyle Kryczka, Kane Leblanc, Matt Lyons and Michael Ozga all played peewee AA.

The Braves have six regular starting pitchers in Baker, Coley, Kryczka, Lyons, Ozga and Ropcean while both Lalor and Leblanc can throw when needed.

In the opener Saturday the Braves scored three times in the bottom of the sixth inning then saw Coley, who came in in the sixth, shut the door in the top of the seventh to record the victory.

Coley was also strong at the play with a double, triple and home run while Baker had a pair of doubles and Lalor a single and a double.

In the nightcap Fort McMurray broke a 6-6 tie with a run in the sixth and hung on for the win.

O’Donnell had two walks and two singles for the Braves while Kryczka had a double and two singles and Baker a pair of singles.

The teams meet again today at 10 a.m. at West Park.

drode@bprda.wpengine.com