For the first time in Cavalry history the coaching staff is entirely made up of native Canberrans. Michael "Tubby" Collins returns for a second season as manager to lead the charge. Keith Ward brings in his expansive baseball knowledge to the position of assistant coach. The staff is rounded out by former Cavalry player, Hayden Beard as pitching coach. The power and know-how of this coaching staff marks an exciting moment for baseball in the Australian Capital Territory.
"This is a milestone to be celebrated," says Cavalry General Manager Thom Carter. "It shows just how much baseball has grown as a sport within the capital city. Each coach brings strong expertise to the table and as a team we couldn't be more excited."
But the coaching staff isn't the only thing that's got the Cavalry looking forward to a promising season. The roster features a strong base of returning players. Pitchers coming back for another year with Cavalry include Brian Grening, Chris Motta and Sean Toler. The experienced arms are something the team can rely on going into the new season. Other returners include position players Jeremy Barnes, and Antonio Callaway. The veterans are ready to help new members acclimate to Canberra and the Australian Baseball League.
The returners have grown in the off season to become even stronger assets for the Cavalry. Tubby knows what to expect from these players and how to fit them in to any situation.
"We're very excited for the start of the upcoming season," Tubby says. "We have a reliable, solid foundation of guys who get more and more familiar with the league every year. To that we're adding new players with new strengths."
Among the returning players is fan favourite, Jack Murphy. The catcher is one of four players affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays are also sending out shortstop Shane Opitz and second baseman Jon Berti, giving the Cavalry even more strength through the middle. Canadian outfielder Michael Crouse will also be joining the Cavalry for the first time after a season with Toronto affiliate the Dunedin Blue Jays.
But the affiliated players aren't the only new faces on the field. Fans will have the opportunity to get to know new pitchers like Jeff Lyman and Nick Pugliese and fielders like Casey Frawley.
Perhaps the heart of the roster is the group of native Canberrans, both returning and new. Colorado Rockies affiliated catcher Robbie Perkins is coming off a strong season in the Pioneer League and ready to play in front of a hometown crowd. Infielder Sam Thornton played with Fort Hays State will be donning his Cavalry jersey for the very first time. Championship Series hero, Aaron Sloan and Cavalry veteran, Michael Wells, join Thornton in the infield, while Ben Warner takes to outfield again. The pitching roster also boasts Canberran returners. Steven Kent had an outstanding off season representing Australia in the World Baseball Classic. Kyle Perkins has been keeping his arm loose and is ready to take the mound again.
The new Cavalry will take to the field for the first time on 31 October. Tickets to this special centenary game are still available but going fast. The game will feature the team in special Centenary jerseys and the team receiving the key to the city. For more information go to www.canberaacavalry.com.au/tickets or call (02) 6295 8379.