By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
There have not been many surprises for Daryl Macklem and his U18 Legionaires this season, the club’s first in the elite division of the Eastern Ontario Baseball Association (EOBA).
For Macklem, it was clear from the start that, with a new league and a new team, there was going to be an adjustment period as players came from as far away as Belleville and Peterborough to join the team.
Starting the season, the club faced a few growing pains, facing a 15-4 loss in its home opener to Mississauga, and continuing on to only get one win in the next five games.
“There’s always an adjustment period, especially when you have new guys coming together for the first time,” Macklem explains.
However, as the season progresses, the mantra seems to be coming true as the club has gone 4-2-2 in their its eight games, including a 4-3 victory over the Oakville As on June 12 and a 14-5 stomping of the Stoufville Yankees a week later on June 19.
“When we take care of the ball and manage the ball, we’re a good team,” Macklem says, noting that a few better performances on the mound or better at bats in some of those losses could easily turned things around into the win column.
“We proved difficult to beat,” he says. “You could argue we could have won six of our last eight, but as it is, we’ve won four and tied two against good competition and we’ve shown we can play with the top teams.”
And beating those top teams is exactly what the U18s will need to do if they want to punch their ticket to the provincial finals.
As a part of the EOBA division of the Ontario Baseball Association (OBA) Elite Division, Oshawa must defeat rival clubs out of Pickering and Whitby in a playoff in order to go on to face the winners of the Toronto and York/Simcoe divisions to try and secure their spot at the OBA championships.
It is a chance Macklem relishes.
“It’s a lot of fun to play your rivals,” he says. “That usually brings out the best in you.”
And it seems the team is on track to playing some of their best baseball of the season.
According to star-pitcher Zack McQuaid, the team knew they were going to face some struggles as a young team in the new division, but they are starting to get over the learning curve.
“We’re not the strongest team in this new loop,” McQuaid admits. “We knew there was going to be challenges and we’re doing our best to overcome them and become a better team, and we’re having more success as the season comes along.”
Macklem says much of the same, noting the players “have definitely come together,” which is both a product of practice and time.
“You’re only going to get closer as time goes on,” he says. “I think that’s started to happen and I think it’s shown.”
The 18Us were back in action June 28 against West Toronto, the results of which were not available as of press time. The club is back home again on July 5 against Pickering.