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Tuesday, Jun. 25, 2019
Great defense a big part of the mix for Carter Benson
by Randy Pascal

Playing great defense might not be the most conventional approach to pursue northern Ontario baseball dreams, but grade 9 Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School student Carter Benson has already proven that he doesn't mind, in the least, taking a slightly different path than most.

Where a good number of the local hopefuls are currently suiting up with Sudbury Voyageurs, Benson has opted to take his show on the road, cracking a very solid Barrie Baycats 15U roster in tryouts last fall.

It was already evident, at least to him, that at this point in his baseball career, smashing towering home runs was not about to be the attribute which could get the diamond fanatic noticed.

"I'm an infielder, play a lot of second base, but I can kind of play wherever," he said. "I wanted to be able to do something that a lot of people can't. I'm not the best of hitters out there, but I can hit for average. I decided to develop my hands, thinking that defense can win championships."

Even then, the means to an end, for Benson, was somewhat unconventional. "I went on U-Tube and watched a lot," he said. "I watched players like Frankie Lindor (Cleveland Indians), my favourite player, just watched his hands, watched how smooth he is."

"He has a pancake glove, so I decided to go and get one. I will also practice with a nine inch glove, which is smaller than what I am used to, but it forces me to field with two hands. And there's a wall beside my house that I throw balls against constantly."

Despite all of the advance preparation, Benson knew that making the team in a market that is much closer to the hotbed of baseball, provincially, would be no easy task. "At first, I was pretty nervous," he said. "There was some really good talent there."

"I knew that if I did make it, I would have a lot of work to do in the off-season. I have to thank my coach, he's taking a chance on me." Meanwhile, Benson and family upheld their part of the agreement, travelling regularly to Barrie, throughout the winter, to attend the Baycats workouts in one of the countless indoor facilities that populate the GTA and beyond.

"I think he (the coach) liked my positivity and the way I was able to get to know the players really quickly, develop chemistry." Bringing together a mix of talent from Barrie, Newmarket, Bracebridge, Keswick, Sudbury and various other outposts, the Baycats' staff started to slot the players into their respective niche with the squad.

"On our team, we have different roles," said Benson. "Some kids can hit it 330, 340 feet. That's not exactly my role. I'm more of a contact versus swinging for fences type of batter." Combined with a commitment to well-above average fielding ability, Benson is hopeful that the next level will take notice, even if it's not what is looked for, in general, right off the hop.

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