Returning infielder JT Williams and the Kelowna Falcons will face the Port Angeles Lefties Friday at Elks Stadium to open the new season. -Image credit: Ken Reid/Greystoke Photography

Falcons liftoff new season Friday

Kelowna begins 2017 West Coast League baseball season at home to Port Angeles

If the Kelowna Falcons don’t improve on their overall performance from 2016, Brian Donohue, for one, would be surprised.

With the new West Coast League campaign set to kick off this Friday night at Elks Stadium, the Falcons’ field manager is excited about the roster he and general manager Mark Nonis have assembled for 2017.

“We have some unfinished business to take care of,” said Donohue, the second-year manager whose Falcons posted a 25-29 overall record last season. “I have my coaching staff returning to Kelowna and all three of us believe we have a better all-around team than last season.

“We are more talented, can hit the ball but more important will fill the zone with strikes.”

Four pitchers on the Falcons roster collected at least 50 strikeouts during their respective school’s spring season. In all, the staff fanned 436 batters.

Offensively, Donohue plans to field an exciting team, managing aggressively by putting players in motion on the bases. He knows it’s about manufacturing runs in the West Coast League and says nothing comes easy.

“We will put pressure on the defence this summer,” he said. “You can’t afford to sit back and wait for someone to hit a home run, not with this wood-bat league. I like our guys and the speed component to our team this season. We will make it tough of defences all summer long.”

The 2017 roster features 44 players, six of whom are Canadian, including two from here in Kelowna. Outfielder Davis Todosichuk who played for the Okanagan College Coyotes this past spring will play his second summer with the Falcons, while pitcher and KSS grad Connor Runnalls will play his first season.

“I like the makeup of our team this summer,” said general manager Mark Nonis. ” I think Bryan and his coaching staff have recruited well and I’m excited to see what our guys can do to excite our fans. We won the Eastern Division pennant just two summers ago and I know our fans are hungry for more.”

The Falcons will open the new season at home to the Port Angeles Lefties in a three-game series, beginning Friday at 6:35 p.m.

As has become tradition, the club’s 2017 home opener features free admission, courtesy of Telus.

The Lefties are the newest team to the West Coast League, formally the Kitsap Bluejackets, who the Falcons swept all six games from last season.

The Falcons report date and only practice for the players is this Thursday. Most players will be in town by then, however a number of others are still participating in their school’s playoff tournaments and will join the team later in June.