With a new set of managers and high expectations, the Westlock Grey Lions are hoping to repeat as Alberta West Central Baseball Association champions.
Taking over the reigns from Rick Sereda and Keith Szautner, who stepped down from managing the team after last summer, are Sheldon McConaghy and Dean Fagnan. The club’s first game of the season is May 9 at Keller Field.
“Keith and Rick did a tremendous job running everything and keeping things organized and I’m just hoping I can follow in their footsteps and have the same success they have had,” said McConaghy.
While the Lions may have some new faces on the roster, they also sport a long list of vets.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good team this year. We’ve got some players returning that didn’t play last year, so I think that will help,” said McConaghy. “We’ve got a group of guys who can play defence and pitch well, so we should have a good chance of repeating our win.”
He noted that even with the returning veterans and an extensive call list, the team is still open to fresh talent.
“We do have a big roster, because some of our guys play part-time. It’s kind of a word-of-mouth kind of thing,” said McConaghy. “The majority our players are returning, but we have a couple guys who may be retiring and we may be looking for a few new people.”
McConaghy noted that coaching a team of seasoned baseball players is a joy.
“It’s more just organizing. Everyone knows where to go and what to do, so you’re not really teaching at all,” he said. “You’re just putting out what you think should be the best plan of attack. With the group of experienced guys we have, a lot of that tends to take care of itself.”
An added benefit to the team’s collective experience is that a lot less prep time goes into each game.
“We just go out and play. There’s a couple of us who’ll go out and throw the ball but we don’t schedule practices,” said McConaghy. “We’re out to have fun. Hopefully we see some of the fans back from last year.”