The Langley/Aldergrove Dodgers are a ball team with a championship pedigree that hasn't quite lived up to expectations from the start of their season.
The local all-stars hope to change that this weekend when they host the Western Canada bantam AAA baseball championships on the beautifully manicured grounds of Aldergrove Athletic Park.
The Dodgers' roster is filled with players who have garnered significant titles in the not-too-distant past. Seven of the team's 12 members were part of the Langley Baseball 11/12 squad that won the B.C. and Canadian Little League titles in 2011 and went on to represent the nation at the famed Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
These same players also took part in the historic Pearl of Africa fund-and-awareness event in Uganda.
They include Cole Cantelon, Yi An Pan, Yi Fan Pan, Ian Burns, Riley Ens, Nick Atkinson, and Ken Dubois.
They are joined by their Dodgers teammates Jake Polancic, Jarrod Manick, Jaron Jeske, Owen Napieralski, and Laith Sweiss.
The team's general manager is Dean Cantelon, who managed that Canadian champion squad.
With the kind of potential firepower the Dodgers possess, they haven't been able to reach their potential this season.
At least not yet.
The Dodgers qualified for the Western Canada tournament as the host team. Most recently, they placed fifth out of 10 teams at a very tough B.C. provincial tournament in Kamloops.
"The provincials is the hardest tournament to win," Dodgers head coach Darren Rock said.
This weekend's event includes eight teams from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
The Vancouver Mounties are the B.C. reps after placing second at the provincial tournament.
The Mounties lost 4-3 to the Cloverdale Spurs in the championship game.
With the victory the Spurs will represent B.C. at the U15 national championships, taking place Aug 22-26 in Vaughan, Ontario.
Closer to home, the Dodgers, who have played more than 60 games this spring and summer, are looking to cap their season with a tournament victory.
"A lot of times with this age group, it's tough because we still make a lot of mental errors," Rock said. "I'm very excited that we kept getting better."
Expectation-wise, first and foremost, Rock said, is to win the Western Canada championship.
Based on past experience the Dodgers should be able to handle the pressure that lies ahead of them over the three days, starting with their first game versus Saskatchewan #1 Friday at 9 a.m.
"That's a huge advantage on our part," Dean Cantelon said. "We've been in these situations before. It [pressure] is not going to affect the players at all."
From a player's perspective Polancic, the Dodgers' first baseman, expects the competition to be "very good."
"I feel we can finish in the top three," he said. "But we have to play fundamentally sound baseball."
Dean Cantelon said the positive thing is the team has "showed up three quarters of the way through the season."
@ Copyright 2013