For Moose Jaw’s Cam O’Reilly and Sowden Flanagan Baseball Training, that whole situation couldn’t have worked out better.
O’Reilly, 17, was on hand at the local facility on Thursday afternoon to officially sign with the St. Clair Saints of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association, making him the first player from Sowden Flanagan to move on to the next level after a successful run with Moose Jaw Minor Baseball
“It’ll be a good experience, I’m very excited to go and I’m thankful to my parents and Sowden Flanagan and St. Clair College,” O’Reilly said shortly after the signing as mom Carla and dad Curtis looked on. “It should be a lot of fun, I think it’ll be really good baseball and a challenge.”
A left-handed pitcher, O’Reilly suited up for a youthful Moose Jaw Canucks team in the pandemic-delayed 2021 Saskatchewan Premier Baseball League season, appearing in eight games and allowing 24 runs in 27 innings, striking out 26 and walking 16 in the process.
His top showing of the season came on Aug. 8, where O’Reilly put together a quality start against the powerhouse Swift Current 57’s, allowing a single run through six innings while striking out five.
The option to continue to work on his game on a regular basis while still in high school at Vanier saw O’Reilly join the Sowden Flanagan flex program this past September, with immediate results.
“They’ve taught me a bunch, especially to get to where I am today, so I’ll keep working with them until I get ready to leave,” said O’Reilly, who’ll head to the Windsor, Ont. based school this August. “I’ve mostly worked on pitching mechanics as well as my change-up and control… just doing what I can to become a better pitcher.”
Once in Windsor, O’Reilly will find himself immersed in winning.
The Saints are an OCAA powerhouse, having won the league title five of the last eight years and at least a medal — including bronze in 2019 after a 13-5 regular season — since the league came into existence in 2013.
The opportunity to join St. Clair came out of a unique connection through Sowden Flanagan: Shane Sowden, the facility’s founder alongside Craig Flanagan, had been in contact with Rye Pothakos of Spartan Sports Management, who were on the lookout for new potential prospects.
Sowden had played for Pothakos as a member of the Western Canadian Baseball League’s Saskatoon Yellowjackets and sent along film of O’Reilly pitching. That was enough for Pothakos to point the local crew in the direction of St. Clair, more film was sent along and the rest is history.
“It’s super exciting, this is one of the perks of doing this,” Sowden said. “When Craig and I started this, one of the things we were most excited about was raising the level of baseball in Moose Jaw in a competitive environment, but second, can we have kids get opportunities when we were their age.
“It’s neat, too, because there are good baseball programs across the country and you don’t have to go across the border to play really good baseball,” he added. “So this will be a great opportunity for Cam and we’re looking forward to how he does at that level.”
The St. Clair College Saints open their season on Sept. 12 when they take on Humber College.