By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
OKOTOKS, Alta. _ In a perfect world the two brothers would hold down the left side of the infield.
Obviously it’s far from a perfect world.
Yet, in a lot of ways it can be a dream world and no where do more dreams exist than on a ball field.
So far, so good for LaRon Smith (Spruce Grove, Alta.) in his final season with the Okotoks Dawgs who is headed to the Indian Hills Falcons this fall. And just like his older brother, he will play for Greg Hamilton’s Canadian Junior National Team.
Smith plays third base.
Meanwhile, Kobe Hyland (Spruce Grove, Alta.), his older brother by almost three years, is in his second year with the Iowa Western Community College Reivers. And come autumn, Hyland is headed further south to play for the University of Houston Cougars.
Hyland plays shortstop.
They last played together with the Spruce Grove White Sox three years ago when Kobe was in grade 12 and LaRon was in grade 10.
Will they ever play on the same team together again?
“Yeah, we spoke about it a few times and joked about being in the majors together,” said LaRon.
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Their mother Raylene Hyland didn’t know about hoops star Kobe Bryant when her Kobe was born. Raylene picked the name because of it meaning: warrior. His full name is Kobe Damani Bryan Hyland and Raylene says each name mean a lot.
Raylene wanted a special name for LaRon, whose full name is LaRon Keondre Devonte Asa Smith. Asa means healer.
“Kobe is my warrior,” Raylene said, “LaRon is my healer. He is truly my healer. They are both so unique and I am very proud of both of then for working hard for their dreams.”
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Kobe was a running back for the Spruce Grove Cougars and was named to the Bantam Bowl North all-star team. He then moved on to play for the Parkland Predators. LaRon was a scrambling quarterback in his early days before becoming a running back.
Hall of Famer third baseman Eddie Mathews always said you need a strong arm and a stronger chest to play the position. Smith has both.
When scouts gathered at the Duvernay Fieldhouse to evaluate they clocked his velocity across the diamond at 91 MPH.
In Okotoks, LaRon rooms with LHP Noah Geekie (Strathclair, Man.) housed at the Maree and Bob Okabe home.
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Who is the better of the two brothers on the diamond?
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LaRon was recruited by the Indians Hills duo of NJCAA Hall of Fame coach Cam Walker (Winnipeg, Man.) and Steve Kletke (Altoona, Man.), assistant coach and recruiting co-ordinator. He chose Indians Hills over other offers.
The Canadians already in Iowa with coach Walker are: RHP Shaun Atamanchuk (Beaumont, Alta.), RHP Jordan Bahnuk (Woodstock, Ont.), INF Declan Buckle (Cornerbrook, NL), 1B-OF Soren Graverson (Calgary, Alta.), OF-1B Jameson Hart (Sarnia, Ont.), RHP Allen Hogg (Surrey, BC), C Jake Kristensen (Aldergrove, BC), C Brett Mercier (Lutes Mountain, NB), INF IF Michael Stovman (Maple Ridge, BC), LHP DJ Depiero (Thunder Bay, Ont.), C-RHP Zachary Fascia (Brampton, Ont.), OF Ryan Humeniuk (Stonewall, Man.), RHP Corey Jackson, (Calgary, Alta.) and Justin King (Okotoks, Alta..).
Kobe’s Reivers have been home to many Canucks over the years including Matt Lloyd (Calgary, Alta.). Canucks with Iowa Western this spring also include RHP Indigo Diaz (Vancouver, BC) and 2B Peter Hutzal (Calgary, Alta.).
At the western peewees in 2012 in Saskatooon, LaRon won the home run derby and also hit .713 as Spruce Grove edged Sherwood North 4-3 to win bronze.
And of late “I showed Allen (coach Allen Cox) my capabilities and my potential,” said LaRron.
“LaRon is a valuable arm on the mound running it up to 92,” Cox said. “He can really pick it in the infield. When it comes to hitting he has some big time pop in his bat with centre field power.”
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Academy Dawgs Awards
Jerry Bender Memorial Award — Tucker Zdunich (High River, Alta.)
Jim Henderson Dedication Award — Noah Penney (Fort McMurray, Alta.)
Dawgs Academy Player of the Year — Cesar Valero (Calgary, Alta.)
Kristi Laycraft Memorial award presented by Sarini Fine Jewellery to Bantam MVP — Dryden Howse (Calgary, Alta.)
Cam Christian Memorial Award — Jack Kenney (Calgary, Alta.)
Dawgs College Dawgs winners
MVP: Kody Funderburk
True Grit Award: Eddie Sanchez
Pitcher of the Year: Tyler Burdett.
Rookie of the Year: Matt Lloyd (Okotoks, Alta.)