By Jonathan Hodgson
The Okotoks Dawgs are proud to announce the club’s award winners for the 2014 season, as well as the keynote speaker for the 2015 Dawgs Hall of Fame & Awards Banquet.
The Dawgs’ award winners for the 2014 season are as follows:
Most Valuable Player: Connor Crane (INF, McNeese State Univ.)
Pitcher of the Year: Tyrell King (LHP, Missouri Baptist Univ.)
Rookie of the Year: Brendan Rose (OF, Univ. of British Columbia)
True Grit Award: Ellis Kelly (INF, Lamar Community College)
The awards will be presented at the 2015 Okotoks Dawgs Hall of Fame & Awards Banquet, which will take place in Okotoks on Saturday, February 7th, 2015.
The Dawgs are proud to announce that Baseball Hall of Fame second baseman, Roberto Alomar will be the keynote speaker at the eighth annual banquet.
Alomar enjoyed a 17-year Major League career with seven teams, including five seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, leading the Blue Jays to back-to-back World Series victories in 1992 and 1993. He was an all-star in 12 consecutive seasons from 1990 to 2001 and had his jersey #12 retired by the Blue Jays in 2011.
A native of Ponce, Puerto Rico, Alomar remains an active supporter of baseball in Canada. At the forefront of his involvement, Alomar has been a leader of the Blue Jays Honda Super Camps for several years.
The Super Camps take several Blue Jays alums across Canada every summer, hosting youth baseball camps. Okotoks has hosted a Super Camp for the past two seasons with Alomar bringing other high profile Blue Jays alumni Duane Ward, Devon White, Jesse Barfield, Lloyd Moseby and Cecil Fielder to Okotoks, among others.
The 2013 Okotoks Super Camp had the largest enrolment of youth players of any Super Camp held outside of Toronto that year.
Alomar is the third Blue Jay to speak at the Dawgs Hall of Fame & Awards Banquet, following Blue Jays alum Homer Bush last year, and Jerry Howarth, the radio voice of the Blue Jays, in 2008.
The second class of the Okotoks Dawgs Hall of Fame will also be inducted on February 7th. The inductees, and further details on the 8th annual Awards Banquet will be released at a later date.
2014 Okotoks Dawgs Award Winners:
MVP: Connor Crane
A corner infielder from Parker, Colorado; Connor Crane provided a presence in the Dawgs lineup, showed versatility defensively, and was instrumental in the Dawgs playoff dramatics, earning 2014 Okotoks Dawgs MVP honours.
Crane came to Okotoks following his sophomore season at Lamar Community College, and immediately stepped into the heart of the Dawgs order. For the regular season, Crane hit .305 with 2 homeruns and 24 RBI’s. He was also among the league leaders with 23 stolen bases, and was a WMBL 2nd Team All-Star.
After manning third base through the first half of the season, injuries to the lineup forced Crane to move across the diamond to first base for the remainder of the season; a move that Crane handled seamlessly.
Dawgs head coach Brett Thomas on the 2014 Okotoks Dawgs MVP,
“Connor was a stable force for us all summer.” Says Thomas. “He was able to do so many things and hit in so many different spots in our line-up. He has a very rare combination of power and speed that was a dangerous weapon.”
Now a junior at McNeese State University, Crane hit .273 in 9 playoff games with 2 homeruns and 8 RBI’s, and came up huge for the team when their back was against the wall. In games 4 and 5 of the first round comeback against Lethbridge, he was a combined 5 for 7 with a homerun and 3 RBI’s.
In the Dawgs 21-5 win in game 3 of the second round against Medicine Hat, Crane was 3 for 5 with a homerun and 5 RBI’s.
“Connor was huge for us in the playoffs, delivering when we needed him most, allowing us to make that comeback over Lethbridge.”
Pitcher of the Year: Tyrell King
Left-handed pitcher Tyrell King enjoyed a stellar first year as a Dawg, coming to Okotoks from Paradise Valley Community College in Arizona.
King started 8 games in the regular season, earning a 4-2 record with a 2.10 ERA. In 47 innings, he allowed just 42 hits and 16 walks while recording 37 strikeouts. After allowing 3 earned runs in his first start on June 14, King did not allow more than 1 earned run in any of his remaining 7 regular season starts.
The Calgary, Alberta native was named the WMBL’s Canadian Rookie of the Year.
In the playoffs, King was 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 18 innings, with two of his three playoff starts coming on short rest.
Brett Thomas on the 2014 Okotoks Dawgs Pitcher of the Year,
“Tyrell was our undoubted number one this past summer.” Thomas begins, “He was a huge reason for our turnaround and won us a lot of games. Tyrell was the guy we gave the ball to in the biggest games, and he always came through with a great performance.”
Now a junior at Missouri Baptist University, King has signed to return to the Dawgs in 2015, to which Thomas says he is “ecstatic.”
Rookie of the Year: Brendan Rose
Brendan Rose enjoyed a strong 2014 season in the outfield for the Dawgs, earning Rookie of the Year honors.
A native of Calgary, Alberta, Rose provided a valuable left-handed bat in the Dawgs order, batting .303 with 16 RBI’s. He finished the regular season on a seven game hitting streak, and hitting .400 (16 for 40) from July 12th on.
Rose is a graduate of the Dawgs Baseball Academy, having won the 2012 Canadian Midget National Championship, playing under head coach Brett Thomas who comments on the 2014 Okotoks Dawgs Rookie of the Year,
“I’ve coached Brendan Rose for a number of years now and I’ve never had a harder worker.” He says. “That work has allowed him to improve his game so much. He had a solid summer at the plate, hitting .300, and played a great left field for us.”
Now a sophomore at the University of British Columbia, Rose has signed with the Dawgs for the 2015 season.
“Brendan Rose is another guy that we feel very fortunate to have back next summer.” Says Thomas.
True Grit Award: Ellis Kelly
One of the youngest players on the roster, Ellis Kelly was a mainstay in the middle infield in 2014, playing in all 46 regular season games, and all nine playoff games.
Kelly came to the Dawgs following his freshman season at Lamar Community College where he played with Connor Crane. The summer started slowly for the native of Castle Rock, Colorado, hitting just .181 (4 for 22) in his first twelve games, but beginning with a June 19th game where he went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI’s, Kelly would hit .305 over the remainder of the season.
On the year, Kelly hit .279 with 15 RBI’s, but it was his defensive capabilities and durability that set him apart. Kelly had the ability to play both middle infield positions, moving between second base and shortstop as needed and also saw game action at third base.
Kelly was the only Dawg, and one of just twelve players in the WMBL to play all 46 regular season games.
Brett Thomas on the 2014 Okotoks Dawgs True Grit Award recipient,
“Ellis was an integral part of our playoff run.” Begins Thomas. “He really came into his own as our shortstop late in the year playing great defense and hitting at the top of our order. Knowing Ellis was going to be there for us day in and day out, playing a demanding position and playing it well, was so important for our team.”
The Dawgs would like to congratulate all of this season’s winners, and look forward to presenting them with their awards at the Dawgs 8th Annual Hall of Fame & Awards Banquet in February.