Two key components to the Okanagan A's championship season will take their considerable baseball talents south of the border next fall.
Dawson Yates and Morgan Lofstrom have both made commitments to play in Texas.
Yates, a first baseman/third baseman has accepted a four-year scholarship with the NCAA Div. 1 Texas A & M Corpus Christi University Islanders, while Lofstrom has made a verbal commitment to accept a two-year scholarship offer to play for the San Jacinto Gators' junior college team in Houston, Tex.
Both Grade 12 students - Yates at Kelowna Secondary School and Lofstrom at Mt. Boucherie - attracted considerable attention from post-secondary schools while playing for Team B.C. at the Canadian under-17 championship tournament in London, Ont. in August.
But the two also drew interest during showcase tournaments in Arizona and Florida in October. Lofstrom spent an additional 10 days at Canada's junior team instructional camp in Florida this fall.
Yates played mostly third base for A's during their B.C. Premier (Midget) Baseball League championship season, but was used at first base by B.C.'s silver-medal team in London.
In nine games, the six-foot, 185-pound infielder led B.C. with 13 runs-batted-in.
Included in his RBI explosion were two home runs, one a sixth-inning grand slam home run over the right-field fence against Quebec. The win earned B.C. a berth in the championship game later in the day against defending champion Ontario, who outscored B.C. 9-8. He finished second in hits (12) for B.C. and was third best on the team with a .414 average.
Yates was fifth in BCPBL batting with a .368 average, but he didn't hit a home run during the regular season and had a relatively modest 20 RBI.
The new-found longball materialized despite the fact he lost 30 pounds during the past year. He attributed the slimming down to 182 pounds to a low-carb/increased fruit-and-vegetable eating regiment.
"I think I lost some power, but I'm quicker and getting stronger," offered the Kelowna Minor Baseball Association graduate earlier this year. "I plan on keeping my weight down and this winter I want to work out a ton to get stronger."
The Islanders are looking forward having the left-handed batter and his power in the lineup.
"They have a short porch in right field and the wind blows out, so they were looking for someone like me," said Yates, who has fielded several scholarship offers from Div. 1 and junior colleges during the past few months.
"Dawson is one of the most exciting pure hitters in high school that I saw in this years' recruiting class," said Chris Ramirez, Texas A and M's recruiting co-ordinator. "His the ability to hit for power from the left side is a perfect fit in our program."
Meanwhile, Lofstrom impressed recruiters with his bat and catching abilities throughout a busy fall that included the Pacific Northwest championship tournament in Centralia, Wash., the Arizona Fall Classic showcase tournament, the prestigious Perfect Game tournament in Miami and the Canadian junior national team's fall camp in Orlando, Fla.
Lofstrom was one of only 30 players and four catchers in Canada invited to the junior camp that included extensive training and exhibition games against minor pro teams in the Toronto Blue Jays', Atlanta Braves' and Detroit Tigers' farm system.
The six-foot, 185-pounder impressed the national team staff enough to be invited back for spring training in April, again in Orlando.
Lofstrom was the A's No. 1 catcher in 2012, posting a .316 batting average and collecting 18 RBI during the regular season.
He also put together a solid performance at the national under-17 tournament, hitting .286 and putting together a pair of two-hit games. While utilized mainly as a catcher, he pitched two-thirds of a inning against Alberta as well.
Lofstrom agreed to commit to San Jacinto because he felt it was the right fit.
Other schools, including Div. 1 Marshall University in West Virginia and Indian Hills in Iowa, showed considerable interest in the West Kelowna Minor Baseball Association product, but the Gators are in need of a catcher and were willing to offer a two-year full-ride deal.
Both Lofstrom and Yates have ramped up their off-season training regiment, including sessions at the Rutland Baseball Academy with A's coach Evan Bailey.
They'll return to the A's this spring and have hopes of having their names called at the Major League draft in early June.