By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
Baseball fans in Durham Region will have a chance to see some of the province’s best U17 and U18 teams in action this weekend.
For the third straight year, Oshawa will host the Elite Baseball League of Ontario 2018 Showcase. The tourney runs Friday, May 25 to Sunday, May 27.
Games will also take place in Whitby, Ajax, and Pickering.
Tournament convener and U18 Oshawa Legionaires coach Ken Babcock says he is hoping for clear skies after the cancellation of last year’s event .
“Last year’s weather unfortunately washed out the entire tournament. Not even one pitch was thrown,” he says.
But that is in the past, and he hopes to match and exceed the results of the 2016 Showcase.
“The first year was a huge success,” he says.
All 21 teams from the EBLO’s Premier and Elite Divisions will partake, including Oshawa’s 18U and 17U Legionaries.
Entries from Windsor, Montreal, and Niagara Falls have joined the field as well.
“These are the top teams from across the province,” Babcock says.
As for his team’s chances, Babcock is expecting strong results.
“It’s exciting to be one of the contending teams. We feel we [can make it into] the final four,” he says.
After narrowly missing the finals two years ago, Oshawa should be a favourite, he adds.
He also sees the weekend as a chance to get a good look at the teams Oshawa will be facing each week in league play.
“No question it’s a help for a coach,” he says.
A tournament this size creates considerable economic benefit.
“People will see these teams all around town,” Babcock says.
He welcomes the public to come support the Oshawa teams, and Ontario baseball in general.
“You’re going to see some outstanding 17 and 18-year-old players. These are kids who have a chance to go on and get college scholarships, whether it be here and or in the States,” he adds. “And admission is free the entire weekend.”
The 18U squad kicks off the weekend with a game against North Toronto on Friday, May 25 at 6 p.m. at Kinsmen Stadium.
The 17U Legionaires begin their tournament play against the Toronto Cardinals at 6 p.m. at Portage Park in Whitby.
For a full schedule, visit elitebaseball.ca.