By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
For Oshawa Legionaires 15U coach Geoff Whent, all roads are leading to the same destination.
The 2018 15U Boys Ray Carter Cup Championship will be held in the city from Aug. 23 to 26, making the Legionaires the hosting team.
From all indications so far this year, it appears they will be among the favourites.
The Legionaires are fresh off a victory at the Elite Baseball of Ontario (EBLO) 15U Showcase hosted in Toronto last month.
The team was dominant in capturing first place, outscoring their opponents by more than a three-to-one ratio over five games.
“Going into the tournament, we’ve been planning for our season, this [was] one of the first tests,” Whent says.
After losing 2-1 to Oakville in round robin play, the Legionaires would later rack up a 16-1 victory to reach the showcase finals.
“At first [the players] were upset, but we said ‘hold up’, this is the adversity we want,” Whent recalls. “The teams that never have adversity are the ones who fold when it comes up.”
This success they had at the 15U Showcase has continued into league play as the team has only suffered one loss so far this year.
To Whent, for the most part, these games are just stepping stones on the path to the ultimate goal.
“Those are all outcomes. We are all about the process,” Whent says, reiterating that August’s national championships are the date circled on his calendar.
“Everything we do prepares for that. The process is way more important.”
“Our whole goal until the national championships is let’s figure out what we have here,” he says. “Our whole staff have coached at the national championships. That’s where we are always trying to get too.”
The main strength of the team, according to Whent, is its cohesiveness.
“We have six kids [from Oshawa] who have come through the system [together] from rookie ball,” he says.
“That core of six have worked so hard. And to watch them go from a really bad single-A team to a good single-A team, etc., now they’ve become a dominant provincial level team, and they always remember where they came from and how much work they’ve put in,” he says.
In addition to the Oshawa contingent, players have joined the Legionaires from Whitby, Peterborough, Ajax, and Thornhill.
“They are perfect fits for our team,” Whent notes.
On the field, Whent says the amount of depth on the team amazes him, whether it be in the departments of offense, defense, or pitching.
With that said, there are still areas of improvement for the team.
“We have to improve our baserunning, our rundowns – all the little nuances of the game you have to work with every day.”
All in all, Whent says he has lofty expectations for the team.
“We know we are one of the top teams in the province.”