U15 Cowichan Valley Mustangs taking big steps this season

Jackson Lange slides safely into second base during the U15 Cowichan Valley Mustangs’ win over the Ridge Meadows Royals at Evans Park on Saturday, May 14. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)Jackson Lange slides safely into second base during the U15 Cowichan Valley Mustangs’ win over the Ridge Meadows Royals at Evans Park on Saturday, May 14. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Chase Rogers takes a swing during the U15 Cowichan Valley Mustangs’ win over the Ridge Meadows Royals at Evans Park on Saturday, May 14. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)Chase Rogers takes a swing during the U15 Cowichan Valley Mustangs’ win over the Ridge Meadows Royals at Evans Park on Saturday, May 14. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Pitcher Thomas Rollins winds up during the U15 Cowichan Valley Mustangs’ win over the Ridge Meadows Royals at Evans Park on Saturday, May 14. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)Pitcher Thomas Rollins winds up during the U15 Cowichan Valley Mustangs’ win over the Ridge Meadows Royals at Evans Park on Saturday, May 14. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

This has been a season of building and growth for the U15 AA Cowichan Valley Mustangs baseball team.

A young team, with 12 of the 13 players in their first year at U15, the Mustangs admittedly struggled in the first half of the season, but they have bigger goals for 2023.

“It’s a learning year,”coach Brody Deverill stated. “We’re hoping to win it all next year.”

The Mustangs lost their first 13 games of the season, but have won two of their last seven, including an impressive 3-2 victory at home on Saturday, May 14 in the second half of a doubleheader against the Ridge Meadows Royals, who sit second in the league standings.

“Getting that win is a turnaround for us,” Deverill said, noting that the Royals started one of their top pitchers in that game.

The Cowichan Valley players missed a lot of baseball because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, there wasn’t a single game; teams were only able to hold practices. In 2021, they played just over half a season’s worth of games.

All but one of the Duncan players had huge adjustments to make this year as they moved up from U13 ball to U15, and have embraced the challenges. Most notably, they are using wooden bats for the first time instead of metal bats, going from 18 ounces to 28 ounces.

“The 12 who came up to the team this year have improved a lot,” Deverill said. “It’s really cool to see.”

The players are having fun as they learn this year, knowing that the winning will come.

“They’re really enjoying themselves,” Deverill said. “They realize their own potential. They’re buying into the game and loving it.”

With 24 games left this season, the Mustangs will battle for a playoff spot, something that still isn’t out of reach if the players keep improving.

“We want them to get a sense of what playoff competition is like before next year,” Deverill noted.

That experience will be valuable next year when the Mustangs take a run at the provincial title, which Deverill believes is within their grasp.

“I see a lot of talent in these guys,” the coach said. “They’ve grown a lot.”

Baseball