Ken Reid/Greystoke Photography                                All-star Taylor Wright will lead the Kelowna Falcons into the 2018 West Coast League season.

Ken Reid/Greystoke Photography All-star Taylor Wright will lead the Kelowna Falcons into the 2018 West Coast League season.

Falcons’ roster stocked with experience for 2018

Kelowna hosts its traditional free home opener against the Bellingham Bells Friday at Elks Stadium.

  • May. 31, 2018 11:30 a.m.

With nine players returning this season—including a pair of West Coast League all-stars—the Kelowna Falcons expect to hit the ground running in 2018.

Led by infielder Tyler Wright and pitcher Cal Hehnke, general manager Mark Nonis is excited about the Falcons largest contingent of returnees in the club’s 18-year history.

“The guys coming back know what to expect, they’re going to be valuable leaders for us this season,” said Nonis. “It’s such a relief to know you have a group here than can help get the new guys settled in. We’re looking forward to seeing them come together.”

The Falcons kick off the new WCL season Friday night at Elks Stadium with their traditional free home opener—courtesy of Steve Nash Fitness/UFC Gym—against the Bellingham Bells.

Wright, an all-star and MVP candidate, led the Falcons offense in 2017 with 11 home runs, 54 RBIs and a .337 batting average. Hehnke anchored the pitching staff with a 4-0 record, 3.17 ERA and 52 strikeouts, the third highest total in the WCL.

Nonis said Kelowna will also be looking for leadership and production from a pair of returning outfielders, Trent Tinglestad (.310, 16 RBIs) and Vancouver native Lucas Soper.

Among other returnees are a pair of Kelowna products in outfielder Davis Todosichuk and pitcher David Tongue.

As important as stability is on the roster, Nonis is also encouraged by the return of field manager Bryan Donohue for his third season at the helm.

Donohue led the Falcons to the first-half North Division title in 2017, posting a record of 17-10.

“Bryan’s familiarity with the program and the players makes my life easier,” said Nonis. “He comes in here knowing what to expect. I agree with his philosophy, the synergy is there, I see a lot of good things coming into the season.”

The Falcons are also steadily becoming a more popular sports ticket in town, averaging more than 1,200 fans in each of the last two seasons.

“The community has done well supporting us,” Nonis said. “Our attendance has been growing and we feel we can continue to offer good value entertainment for the fans.”

First pitch Friday between the Falcons and Bells is 6:35 p.m. The clubs meet again Saturday at Elks Stadium at 6:35 p.m. and Sunday at 6:05 p.m.

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