Practice makes perfect, even if it means finding extra time to play.
Not wanting to stop playing, even when the season schedule gave them a weekend off, the Lacombe Midget Dodgers hosted the South Jasper Place Jays of Edmonton in a double header on June 22.
In two back-to-back exhibition games the Dodgers defeated the Jays. In the first game, Lacombe won 13-12 and won 9-7 in the second game.
Coach Denny Pannenbecker said that great pitching combined with a strong defense is what won the Dodgers both games. He added that the games were tight especially with the Dodgers being short four players on the bench.
“They were fairly even teams.” He added the games were good practice for the Dodgers who will certainly be challenged as they head into playoffs this weekend.
He added that the ‘bread and butter’ of baseball, hitting and pitching, are the team’s biggest strengths and have led the Dodgers to an incredibly successful season. In fact, the Dodgers have only lost one game all year and boast a 17-1 overall record.
However, the impressive record has led the Dodgers to get a little cocky during some of their games, said Pannenbecker. When the team gets ahead by a few runs, they sometimes get too relaxed and don’t play the full game.
For example, Pannenbecker said that on Saturday’s first game, the Dodgers were up 11-4 earlier in the game but gave up that lead and ended up only winning by one run.
Pannenbecker added that the team will need to be mentally prepared and stay focus for the whole game during playoffs in order to do well.
“If our pitching comes through like it can and we stay focused, I think we should challenge the title.” He also reiterated that the Dodgers will not have an easy run to the title as all the other teams in the league also have strong pitchers, hitters and are fairly evenly matched with Lacombe.
“All seven teams could probably say that,” added Pannenbecker with a laugh.
While any of their competitors can boast talented players, so can the Dodgers. This talent is well spread over the entirety of the team’s bench as well, said Pannenbecker. Of the 15 players on the roster, 11 of them are very good pitchers, he said.
“Our biggest challenge is having enough games to get all the pitchers in.”
Two overage players, veterans who have been with the same team since day one of first year PeeWee, have also emerged as leaders on the team. While Austin Ypma and all-around player Damian Pannenbecker serve as role models for the team, Denny said that that each player will have to pull his own weight in order for the Dodgers to be successful in playoffs.
“Our team is actually fairly even across the board, so everyone will have to do their part,” said Denny. “They are all fairly strong.”
Dodgers playoff action begins this weekend with a game Friday night at 7 p.m. against Slave Lake. The team plays again on Saturday at 4 p.m. against Camrose and again on Sunday at 1 p.m. against Bonnyville. Games will take place at Michener Park.