By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
Daryl Macklem, head coach of the Oshawa 16U Elite Legionaries, isn’t one for overanalyzing his team’s current record.
The squad is in its inaugural season in the Elite Baseball League of Ontario (EBLO) and has racked up five wins and losses apiece.
But that’s not what Macklem is focused on.
“I’m not a standings person. I care more about player development and improvement,” he says.
For Macklem, the main objective is to reach the Ontario Baseball Association (OBA) AAA championships in Hamilton later this summer.
“We are in a fight right now to get to the provincial championships. We control our own destiny,” he says.
That control comes in the form of Oshawa’s performance against its two closest rivals.
“It’s based on our head-to-head records with Peterborough and Whitby. Right now, we are 4-2 in those games and we have two games left against Whitby.”
For Macklem, it has been an impressive performance for a team that is lacking in previous AAA experience.
“We had two players with Triple-A experience [before the 2018 season]. A lot hadn’t played at this level. They’ve put in the effort, and that’s what we stressed if we want to compete we had to work harder than everyone else.”
And while the Legionaires are a new addition to the EBLO, Macklem says there is no element of surprise for them to use.
“I think the teams have seen our players all the way up, so there is no advantage there,” he says.
On the field, pitching has been the team’s biggest strength.
“Obviously you need pitching to win, and that’s the one area that is our strength. Regardless of who we are sending out to the mound, we know we are going to get a quality effort.”
Macklem wants to see more consistency in the other aspects of the game.
“Our defense has been a bit sluggish. One game we’ll be outstanding and the next we’ll take a couple of steps backward,” he explains. “Offensively, it’s the same thing as well. One game, we scored 12 runs on 14 hits, and the next we scored three runs on five hits.”
Although he is quick to praise the efforts of every player on the roster, Macklem says Julian Ricci, an import from North York, has been an offensive juggernaut so far this year.
“He’s been one of our go-to guys. He’s ahead by a mile in runs batted in, and he’s been hitting consistently,” Macklem says.
Macklem reminds his players to avoid becoming overconfident.
“I’m a believer in you qualify first, and then you see what happens. The goal is to win, but I don’t believe in showing up to a provincial championship expecting to win.”
With that said, he truly believes that his team has the potential to make an impact.
“I think [the first season] has been an eye-opening experience for some of the players and parents on just how good this group can be, and we’ve shown we can play with some of the top teams in the province,” he says.