Lift off for Falcons' 2012 baseball season
With no returning players on the roster and a new coaching staff, the 2011 season was indeed a bumpy ride for the Kelowna Falcons.
Twelve months later, with six players and field boss Al Cantwell back for another tour of duty, there is an air of both familiarity and optimism for the West Coast League club.
"We're just really excited to back here and try it again," said Cantwell, a Canadian who coaches high school baseball in Louisiana. "There was so much new last year it took a while to really find a routine, to be part of the recruiting process, and to know more of the kids. So on the whole, I think we're a little ahead of the game from where we were last year, I'm excited about the group we have coming in.
"Our six guys coming back are really going to help out in the day to day stuff and with little questions that guys have," added Cantwell who will be assisted by Lloyd Gage. "It's a big advantage for us."
The Falcons, who went 19-34 last season, will open up the 2012 campaign Wednesday night in Cowlitz, Oregon against the Black Bears.
Among the six returnees on the Kelowna squad is pitcher Boomer Hermes, a senior from North Dakota State, who was solid for the Falcons last season, appearing in 21 games and posting a 1.88 ERA.
Hermes, 21, is excited to be back in the Okanagan for another summer of baseball.
"I really like set up in Kelowna, I like the city and I really like the league, it's competitive," said Hermes. "It's good to get yourself out there in a good league like this, I like the coaches, and I'm back with the same host family I was with last year, so that's great.
"I'm looking forward to us having a good season."
The Falcons will once again have considerable Canadian content with six Canucks on the roster, including Regina's Greg Friesen (LSU Shreveport) who led the club in home runs (4) and RBIs (21) last season.
The Falcons will have around 23 players available for the start of the season this week in Cowlitz, with the remainder of the 33-man roster joining the club within the next couple of weeks.
The Falcons will play their traditional free home opener Sunday night when they take on the Kitsap Bluejackets in a 6:05 p..m start at Elks Stadium. Admission to the game is free.