Cocoa Beach – As snow squalls continue to hound the Stratford area during Spring Break, the iCASE Baseball Academy escaped and has landed in Cocoa Beach, Floriday courtesy of Great Canadian Holidays & Coaches, to train and play a half dozen games that certainly couldn’t have taken place at home.
After practising on Saturday at Desoto Field and Sunday at Surfside Park, both located in Satellite Beach, the Huskies play Monday night at Eagles Nest Park in Orlando, doubleheaders on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at the Cocoa Expo Sports Complex, and Friday morning to close out the week with a game against the Tecumseh Thunder.
“We’ll take Wednesday to rest our pitchers’ arms, as it wasn’t our goal to come down here in mid-season form, but rather, pre-season form, which hopefully will accommodate outings of two or three innings per pitcher,” said head coach/GM Tom Valcke.
Depth-wise, nine players will toe the rubber for iCASE, including Riley Deline, Dylan Kints, Sam Near, Nisarg Patel, Riley Sykes, Jordy Tessmer, Peyton Tisi, Ruben Van Dijk, and Ryan Yea. With some of iCASE’s older players not able to make the trip south, Van Dijk, who hails from The Netherlands and is considering attending iCASE next Fall, decided to fly over to kick the tires.
“That’s what the ‘I’ in iCASE stands for, ‘international!’” emphasized Valcke.
“We’ve had players attend from Australia, Germany, Korea, Mexico, Brasil, and we remain close to the brink doing something with Hong Kong, Japan and Pakistan. The cultural component makes iCASE even more unique, and has really added spice to the Canadian component. We’re thrilled to have Ruben join our ranks this week.”
“Deline may be the steadiest pitcher on the staff, and Near is best in a closing role. Patel, Kints and Van Dijk are the youngest players on the trip and will succeed if they pound the strike zone and let the defense take care of things. Sykes and Tessmer are both coming off of arm injuries, so we’ll step gingerly there. Tisi brings experience to the table and is the strongest physical player who wear our jersey, and Yea is always capable of having a good outing for us on the mound.”
Mitch McKay, who is also capable of pitching if needed, and Deline will handle the bulk of the catching duties, as veteran Zach Olinski’s arm is also under the care of former Blue Jays trainer and iCASE Athletic Therapist Dan McIntosh, and will likely spend the week in the role of designated hitter with spot duty at first base or the corner outfield.
Cam Lynn, recovering from a dislocated shoulder, is ready to return to the line-up at first base, and Macguire Gordon will contribute up the middle.
More photos below: