A year of playing up has paid off for Leaside Baseball’s minor mosquito AAA team.
During their rookie ball season in 2016, the team played in mosquito to hone its pitching skills.
A year later, the troupe pulled off a clean sweep in Vaughan on June 23–25, with a perfect record, downing Vaughan A, Mississauga North Team 2 and Royal York in the round robin. Then they followed up that indelible record with a semifinal win against Richmond Hill and a 7-2 victory over Newmarket in the final. A total of 14 teams competed in the tournament.
Head coach, John Watt, said he was happy the hard work over the past three years has been paying off.
“We’re high achievers, definitely,” he said, in an early July phone call. “We’re really focused on development. What we found was without a full squad of kids who can pitch, you cannot make it deep into the critical tournaments.”
This season has been dedicated to developing each of the 12 players’ skills on the mound just for that purpose of having a deep bullpen.
Outside of pitching development, every player also catches, and four players are trained for each of the infield positions.
“We’re probably 75 percent there,” Watt said.
They’ve also had good practice playing against American teams in the Boys of Summer elite league based out of Buffalo, N.Y.
The northern New York league exposes his 9- to 10-year-olds to “big, big” 11-year-olds – mini “Mike Trouts” as it were.
“We’ve come back to the competition that we faced two years ago. Some of the teams have changed, they’ve lost some of their good players,” he said of the Toronto Baseball Association games. “With the development focus, we walk the fine line of winning games to keep the kids excited and motivated.”
With Watt on the coaching staff are Karinne Chan, Andrew Corrie, Tony Kwon, Shawn Murphy, Zachary Stevenson, Derek Tilley and Hannah Wasserman.
“It takes a village to do this,” Watt said. “I feel fortunate to be in Leaside.”