PROVO -- Four games, a fireside, a clinic and a visit to a school will be the focus of BYU’s baseball team when it leaves this weekend for a trip to the Dominican Republic.
“Our baseball team is excited about the opportunity to take a foreign trip to a country where baseball is truly their national pasttime," said BYU coach Vance Law. "Baseball isn’t the only reason we are going, although we will have the chance to see our players, especially the new ones and the ones back off missions, compete against some talented Dominican players.
"We will also take the opportunity to visit an orphanage, hand out hygiene kits to a poor community, and spend a day with school kids and put on a big baseball clinic. It is a chance of a lifetime for many of our players to interact with young people and give them hope for a brighter future which can come with baseball, education, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
BYU’s players assembled the hygiene kits thanks to arrangements made by 5 Star Legacy Foundation.
The 34 Cougar players and coaches arrive in Santo Domingo on Saturday via New York City and will do two firesides on Sunday evening — one in Higuey and one in Santo Domingo.
“Interest for our student athletes coming to the Dominican has been high, so we are going to send some of our team to the small town of Higuey and the rest of us will go to Santo Domingo," said Law. "I have about 12 Spanish speakers so they all will have the opportunity to speak at one of the two firesides.”
Juniors Chris Capper (3-6, 4.91) and Mark Anderson (4-2, 5.03) will be BYU’s starting pitchers on Monday and Tuesday. Sophomores Desmond Poulson (6-0, 4.15) and Adam Miller (3-3, 4.04 in 2009) are scheduled to be on the mound to start Thursday and Friday’s games.
The four games are scheduled for the mornings on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday against professional organization academy teams that are part of the Yankees', Red Sox', Rangers' and Royals' organizations. The games will be played at stadiums in the Boca Chica area.
Many pro teams have developmental academies located in the Dominican where they sign players as young as 16 who show great ability but have not yet polished their skills. These are the teams we will be playing.
“Many pro teams have developmental academies located in the Dominican where they sign players as young as 16 who show great ability but have not yet polished their skills," said Law. “These are the teams we will be playing. It will be a chance for our guys to face some hard-throwing young pitchers and some talented young hitters and for us as coaches to see and evaluate our team’s progress thus far.”
On Wednesday, the scheduled off day, the Cougars will conduct a huge baseball clinic with up to 30 teams and deliver much of the donated baseball equipment that was collected at Miller Park.
“I cannot thank the people enough for all of the donated items we are able to take with us. It will be a joy for our players to give away all the bats, balls, gloves, shoes, and uniforms that has been so generously given," said Law. "Some of these kids will have their first real glove ever, having only used a flattened milk or juice carton before."
Several crates of those donated items were a result of an Eagle Scout project by Casey Spencer in cooperation with Orem Youth Baseball.
Following the game on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, the Red Sox will host the team for a Thanksgiving meal. Other activities include visiting the Colonial section of Santo Domingo where Columbus was said to have established a settlement, and attending a professional Winter League game featuring the Tigers of Licey and the Aguilas (Eagles) of Santiago.
“I am excited for our players to see a Winter League game and experience the energy and excitement of a Dominican crowd. There are a lot of Major League players playing so the baseball is really high level as well,” said Law.
The Cougars return to Provo on Saturday at which time the fall practice segment will have concluded and they will go back into individual and small group skill work prior to finals.
Ralph R. Zobell has worked for BYU Athletic Media Relations in various capacities for over 30 years. You can view his bio at http://byucougars.com/staff/athletics/ralph-zobell or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.