The Red Deer Bantam AAA Servus Credit Union Braves got off to a good start this season but cooled off for a bit.
“Yeah we had a bit of a rough patch there and we just found ways to lose ball games,” said head coach Dwayne Lalor. “We’d have the lead in the sixth then lose the game by one.”
He says since then things have gotten back on track, making a few more plays each game and putting up a win instead of a loss, he said.
The goal is to get the team into the top tier of their league in order to make it to the provincial tournament the first weekend in August.
He says there are a couple of tough teams expected to be there but if the Braves can put together a hot streak during that weekend anything can happen.
“We’re close but right now we’re in the bottom half of the league in terms of record but I think we can get into the top half,” he said.
The Braves have a handful of games left in their regular season plus some makeup games due to rainouts but Lalor says part of the continuation of their development includes a tournament in Calgary where they will face some top ranked teams.
Lalor points to his players having been better at bats as one reason for the Braves winning five of their last seven games.
“We’re not going out as easy, we’re going out there and fighting a little bit harder than we did earlier,” he said. “We understand what a curve ball is a little bit better. Bantam is the first age group where they can throw curve balls.”
He says pitching has been relatively solid for most of the season but defensive lapses have hurt the confidence of the staff where innings should have been over but mistakes allow for it to continue.
“Defensively we’re starting to make a few more plays and that help out our pitchers,” he said. “Our pitchers think ‘Gee, all I have to do is get a couple of ground balls and we’ll be fine’ but some nights it’s like, ‘Gee I kind of have to strike this guy out’ and then you try to do too much on your own.”
Lalor says the physical side of the game is easier to measure than the mental aspect but he wants his players to understand making a few extra plays each time out is progress.
“As long as we keeping getting better than we were the week before then we are headed in the right direction,” he said.