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Friday March 17, 2017

Brendan Rose -  A familiar face in the outfield returns to Okotoks

Story by: Dustin Saracini

If you are a fan of the Okotoks Dawgs, or have been around Seaman Stadium for the past four years, chances are you have seen Brendan Rose patrol the outfield for the hometown club.

When the calendar flips to June, the Calgary product will be back for another shot at the WMBL title.

“Playing there, there’s nothing really like it,” Rose said.

“You get 3,000 people at every game, it’s by far the funnest place I’ve ever played baseball.”

The homegrown talent also has the opportunity to play in front of friends and family as he takes his annual trot towards the freshly cut grass. Throwing on the Dawgs uniform is a privilege for Rose, who progressed his game through the academy.

“I started playing for the junior Dawgs in grade nine, so we would go and watch the college team play,” he said.

“Obviously it was pretty cool, and I hoped one day I’d get a chance to play out there.”

Rose got his chance, and he ran with it.

He made his debut in the summer of 2013, suiting up for nine games. What began as a learning experience quickly developed into a strong four-year career, establishing himself as one of the most consistent hitters in the league. In his rookie campaign, the young outfielder hit for a .167 average, but was determined to progress. With more at-bats in 2014, the 6’1”, 175-pounder slashed a .303 average with a .379 OBP. A year later, it rose to .313 before catapulting to .359 and a home run in 167 plate appearances during his last campaign. Rose led the Dawgs in hits with 60 in 2016 -- out dueling Josh McIntyre and Kellen Marruffo who both had 51 -- while capping off a tremendous season with 20 multi-hit games.

“What I want to do is just be someone that consistently delivers,” he said.

“Someone that is counted on, especially coming back for a fifth year hopefully, to be a bit of a leader this year … It would be really nice to win it this year.”

“As you grow up you just get more comfortable in there and develop an approach at the plate,” Rose spoke about his improvements each season.

“Last summer I just felt like it was nice to get to play everyday, and you can stick with an approach. It was nice to know you’re getting five at-bats at seven o’clock every night, and that’s kind of what you look forward to every day, seven o’clock.”

In order to take the Dawgs over the playoff hump, Rose believes it’s about coming together at the right time, good defence and timely hitting. During their 33-14 regular season, it was evident the red and white were playing their best baseball, stringing together six and seven-game winning streaks throughout the summer. Now it’s about carrying over their continuous success into the postseason.

Away from Okotoks, the veteran Dawg holds down left field for the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds (15-5) -- yet another elite Canadian program.

“It’s pretty cool to have two programs like this,” he said.

“It’s cool to have been and continue to be a part of both of them. I think they both have grown the game a ton in Canada.”

Moving forward to June, Rose will be making his mark on the Dawgs roster for the fifth straight season -- and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Given an opportunity to change anything, there’s nothing I would change about Okotoks. It’s the greatest place I’ve ever played baseball and it’s pretty special what they have there.”

The countdown for seven o’clock has already begun.

UPDATE: Dawgs in the big leagues

Jordan Procyshen (C) - Boston Red Sox

1-8, 1 RBI, .125 AVG, .111 OBP, .236 OPS

Jim Henderson (P) - Chicago Cubs

3 G, 0-1, 9 ERA, 4 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 SO

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