Six returnees in Junior Jays lineup
The North Delta Junior Blue Jays of the BC Junior Baseball League (JPBL) will be looking to build off of last season with a strong group of returning players.
The Junior Jays went 23-21 (won-lost) to place seventh in the 12-team JPBL a year ago, and boast a half dozen returnees from last season's team.
Zach Besler, Joel Bourque, Trevor Gentles, Gota Kinoshita, Braedon Miller and Ryan West are the six veterans on the squad, which opens its season tomorrow (Saturday) at Mackie Park in North Delta with a double header against the Okanagan Athletics.
Surrey resident Ryan West and rookie Noah Or will share the catching duties. West was fourth on the Blue Jays in 2013 with 14 runs batted in (RBIs) in 28 games played.
Veterans Gentles, Miller and Kinoshita will lead the infielders, a group that includes newcomers Mackenzie Marquis, Marc Ashfrod, Clayton Sandover and Daniel Gosselin. Gentles, a Cloverdale resident, hit .264 with 13 RBIs last season while Surrey resident Miller had a .254 average with a team-best 18 RBIs.
In the outfield will be Besler and Bourque, along with first-year players Alex Davis, Jacob Hampton, Logan Newman and Alex McCrae. Besler hit .309 last season with 12 RBIs.
Kinoshita and West will be the leaders of the pitching staff for the second straight season. West, a student at Fleetwood Park Secondary, had a team-best 1.32 earned run average (ERA) in 2013 with 21 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched.
Kinoshita, an exchange student from Japan attending Sands Secondary, was the busiest pitcher last season. He was on the mound for 75.1 innings, leading the team in strikeouts with 13 while posting a 2.13 ERA.
Besler was on the mound for just 10.2 innings last season, but will see more time pitching this year. Gosselin, a left-hander, completes the pitching staff.