By Greg Price
While winning the Tier I League Championship was a team effort for the Vauxhall Vikings baseball team late last month, there were a couple of its leaders that were recognized by coaches from across the Southern Alberta high School Baseball League.
Jayden Bexte was selected as a Southeast All-Star along with Reed Odland who was voted Defensive MVP.
Bexte manned the hot corner for the Vikings along with dabbling in some pitching, first base, catcher and shortstop.
Bexte was one of the biggest motivators on the team.
Odland’s presence in the league championship tournament loomed large as the Vikings quest for the banner could have easily been derailed, having flashbacks to a disappointing 2016 season where once again the Vikings were afflicted by the dreaded blow-up inning that cost numerous runs.
Handing Eagle Butte some runs in a 5-1 deficit in the semifinal by lengthening out the second inning with errors, this time around in 2017, the Vikings righted their ship in an 11-10 win where Odland earned the win in relief on the mound and also tied the game in the sixth inning with a three-run home run.
“Him and Jayden were our two dominant players on the team for most of the season. Bexte was definitely our most vocal team leader as far as emotion and keeping the team going. He was probably the only player in that semifinal game that didn’t put his head down after they got their five runs. He always had his pre-game speeches. He was always upbeat,” said Rob Virginillo, head coach of the Vauxhall Vikings baseball team this past season.
Bexte’s all-star selection highlighted some interesting Vauxhall Vikings baseball history where he was part of the final out in 2014 as a Grade 9 that won them their championship banner, and did so again in 2017 when he threw the ball across the diamond from third base, putting perfect bookends to his high school baseball playing career.
Reed had one of the biggest bats in the lineup while being the field general being the primary catcher where it was very difficult to steal on him, and he helped his pitchers out by expertly framing their pitches.
“Catching takes a lot out of you, but he was always there defensively. He pitched more than we want because one of our pitchers had a three-week injury, and the two games he pitched for us he really dominated which was nice,” said Virginillo.