The 18U AAA Southeast Twins are poised to take a step further this season, with their first games coming this weekend.

The Twins missed the playoffs after going 11-21 during the regular season in 2021.

But Head Coach Trent Dorrance believes progression of a healthy number of returning players mixed with new talent and a better approach on the field will result in more wins.

"Things are looking pretty good," he said on Friday morning. "We finally got on the diamond last night for the first time of the year. We were just practising in gyms up until then. The squad that we picked here about three weeks ago looks good. We've got 10 returning kids from last year and we've added six more really solid kids. We feel pretty confident in the first games this weekend."

The Twins visit the Swift Current 57's for a doubleheader Saturday and the Moose Jaw Canucks for a pair of games Sunday. 

The 57's were beaten by the Saskatoon Giants 15-5 on Monday. The Canucks haven't played yet.

Carter Beck is one of the returnees. He led the team with a 1.130 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

"He's having a great winter and spring," said Dorrance. "He's getting looked at by different colleges down south right now. He's a lot bigger and stronger than he was last year, so I expect him to be a great asset for the team."

Beck catches, plays in the infield, and Dorrance said they could use his mid-80s throwing velocity in a closing-pitching role this year.

Dorrance said a big addition will be Weyburn's Sutter Balog.

"He's going to be a really strong pitcher for us. He throws mid-80s and looks like he can control the zone well. So it'll be interesting to see how he pans out, but he looks really good so far."

There are a couple first-year players graduating from 15U AAA that Dorrance expects to contribute on the mound as well, in Nathan Yunick and Kade Phillips. 

"The two things that we want to work on and really stressed with the boys last night going into this weekend, is first-pitch strikes with pitchers. We walked too many guys last year. And when we were batting, we weren't taking enough walks. We were swinging at pitches, getting down early in counts. It just affected our bats. Control those two little things, and then of course making fewer errors, and that will solidify a lot of our issues."

The Twins had a team batting average of .315 in 2021, which was the second-best mark in the 12-team league.

Minimizing errors and improving walk rates on offence and defence could be a difference maker, especially considering many of the losses last year were close games.

"Over half the games that we lots were between one and two runs last year," said Dorrance. "We were close in every game. We just have to learn to compete that little extra bit to come out on top. Our boys are that much bigger and stronger. We've got six kids that have been playing some ball down in Florida and out in Alberta and B.C. already this year with different travel teams and Team Sask. We've already got a good jump with some kids already."

Dorrance said the Twins have a good chance to start the season 3-1 or 4-0. The 57's were 10-22 last year, and lost some strong veterans. The Canucks were 12-20.