Grand final replay to start baseball season
WHAT promises to be a close-fought baseball season gets underway tomorrow with last year's grand finalists squaring off on Diamond 1.
The Coffs All Stars and Sawtell Dodgers will be the key match up of the day while the clash between the Woolgoolga Blue Sox and Bellingen Diggers is an intriguing encounter.
For defending premiers, All Stars, the year will be about bringing through their talented juniors after the loss of John Rigden and Sam Langler from their A-Grade squad.
All Stars have picked up handy replacements in Nick Andrews and Andrew Saggus but club president Chris Cook has his eye on emerging talents such as Harry Cross and Tyran Fieldes to make their make this year.
As usual the Dodgers will be tough opposition.
Despite losing evergreen hitter Gerard Walsh to Bluesox, and the safe hands of Britt Parton, the return to Coffs Harbour baseball of Tye Gould and Andrew Mainey will see their roster strengthen.
Mainey is rated by many as the best pitcher to have played in the Coffs Association and it will be interesting to see how his years away from the game have affected his arm.
Blue Sox will be hoping for an injury free year.
The likely loss of Warwick Taylor will hurt but in addition to Walsh the Sox have collected Mick Gray from Sydney.
Gray is an all-rounder and is highly rated for his pitching, hitting and in-fielding.
The Blue Sox squad continues to improve and with another season under the belt of their young squad, can be expected to challenge for the premiership.
Diggers have also recruited well.
Ironman Matt Minor's relocation to Newcastle has been compensated by bringing in Sam Langler, Hunter Bake-Smith and Nik Doves.
Doves is also arriving from Sydney where he played high level baseball in the Cronulla competition.
Bake-Smith is expected to catch the majority of A Grade games, adding a strong arm and bat to the line-up.
Last season's MVP Langler will be largely restricted to infielding duties as he prepares for his matriculation to California's Ventura College.
Although he will be leaving later this month, his presence in the green and grey of Diggers will ensure that they are a competitive squad, albeit manager Charles Wolfson is still in need of a high quality starting pitcher.