Baseball Hawks look to repeat ’09 success

The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s baseball team is entering the 2010 season on a high note after their highly successful campaign a year ago. The squad finished with a 10-8 season record, 2-2 for the post season and went on to earn a silver medal at the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Championships.

This marked the best record in Golden Hawk baseball history.

“Baseball continues to grow,” commented head coach Scott Ballantyne. “Over the course of the last five years especially, the competition and caliber of players has been dramatically improving.”

Unfortunately for the quickest up and coming squad on campus there appears to be more setbacks to their program.

The OUA has bumped down the tier level of baseball as an interuniversity sport, resulting in the usual 18 game season being cut to 14 games, along with the loss of tabulated statistical data.

This comes after Laurier’s baseball team lost their annual $20,000 worth of funding from Laurier Athletics due to university-wide budget cuts prior to last season.

The Golden Hawks have also graduated key veteran players such as outfielder Jeff Brunsek, and captains second-baseman Scott Mahn and catcher Chris Pittaway, while losing centre-fielder Elliot Shrive to the Western Mustangs.

Despite the team’s losses, Ballantyne has worked diligently to organize fundraising initiatives, coordinate extra exhibition games (including the inaugural Laurier Invitational Tournament Labour Day weekend), and hand pick an extremely strong recruiting class for the 2010 season.

Both Mahn and Brunsek will join Ballantyne’s coaching staff alongside returning assistant coaches Dennis Schooley and Jordan Bilkas, as well as newcomer Mike Mulder.

Mulder worked alongside Ballantyne this summer to earn a Junior Intercounty Championship title with the Kitchener-Waterloo Junior Panthers.

Promising young talent seen in outfielder Nathan Loehle, right-handed pitcher Tyler Soucie, and the Hawk’s newest Captain right-handed pitcher David Canavan, also hail from the JR Panthers.

Adding even more depth to their roster, left-handed pitcher Brett Van Pelt joins the team after spending a season in California at NCAA D1 Saint Mary’s University.

Middle infielder Matt Sancheli will bring experience to the team coming to Laurier for his master’s degree after playing four years at the University of Ottawa, leading his team as a captain and earning MVP honours.

The baseball Hawks also boast back-to-back Laurier Rookie of the Year award winners –pitcher Andrew Greenberg was last year’s winner, and third-baseman Ryan Panas in 2008-09.

“I think we have a strong core of returning players and a mix of freshmen with experience that will give us a chance to make it back to the OUA Championship,” said Ballantyne.

The regular season kicks off at home Sept. 11 against the Toronto Varsity Blues. Game time is 1:00 p.m.