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Acadia baseball team eyeing trip, championships as season gets underway

There is a sense of excitement surrounding the Acadia baseball club these days. Among those looking forward to the 2015 season, and a goodwill trip to Cuba in February, are, left to right, returning player Andrew Chase and assistant coaches Gage Reid and Mike Reid. 
There is a sense of excitement surrounding the Acadia baseball club these days. Among those looking forward to the 2015 season, and a goodwill trip to Cuba in February, are, left to right, returning player Andrew Chase and assistant coaches Gage Reid and Mike Reid. 

WOLFVILLE - There is a sense of optimism and excitement surrounding the Acadia baseball club this fall, and not just because the team already has a trip booked to Cuba in February to take part in a goodwill tour.

Baseball at Acadia was resurrected a year ago after a hiatus of more than 10 years. The Axemen were third in the regular season before losing to Saint Mary's in the playoffs.

“We were one win away from going to nationals,” said coach Mike Reid, who also coached last season.

Chris Burns, back for a second year as head coach, described the outlook as “very promising” for Acadia this season.

“We have a lot of returning players, who know the league and each other, and we've added a couple of strong kids that anyone in the country would love to have.”

The rest of the coaching staff includes Jason Pleasant-Sampson, Gage Reid, and Trevor Croteau and Don Mailman, both of whom are also involved in Kentville Minor Baseball. All but Pleasant-Sampson are new to the team this season.

As an added motivation for the Axemen, the 2015 CBA championship is being hosted at UNB.

“UNB, plus two other teams, will get to be there,” Burns said. “It's a huge motivating factor, and I believe we're in prime position.”

 

‘Quality over quantity’

Acadia held four days of tryouts in late August and early September.

“We didn't get the numbers of new players we were expecting, but that may have been because we have so many returning players,” Reid said.

A 16-player roster was selected, which some might say is a bit thin on numbers. Returning Axemen player Andrew Chase, however, described the roster choices as “quality over quantity.”

Eleven of the 16 players played last season, including pitcher David Pilat (Fenelon Falls, ON) who threw a no-hitter in his first start.

Other returning pitchers include Chase, a Kingston resident, Sam Byers (Truro), Wes Harding (Petite Riviere, NS) and Tristan Reed (West Pubnico). Some of these players are also capable of playing other positions.

One pitcher who has not returned is Nick Tibert, also from Kingston, who is still an Acadia student but has decided not to play baseball this year.

Other returning players include outfielder Sam Gallant (Saint John), and outfielder Brandon McKay and outfielder/catcher Mark McPhee (both from Miramichi, NB).

Mark Matyas, a shortstop from Calgary who was a second-team all-Canadian last year, also returns, along with outfielder Matt Gendron (Boston) and first baseman-catcher Ted Higa (Calgary), the team captain last season.

New players include William Robinson, a hard-throwing six-foot-four, 225-pound pitcher/third baseman from Ottawa who is a potential game-changer.

Other newcomers are catcher/infielder Percy Clark (Thunder Bay, ON); infielder/catcher Gerry Holle (Pictou County); infielder John Flewwelling (Halifax) and infielder Matthew Stanley (Moncton).

“I'm pretty excited about the season,” says Chase, a NKEC graduate. “Last year was good, but I feel we're better this year – solid both on and off the field.”

 

Eye on the prize

“We're going for it this year. We're absolutely planning to improve on third, and we'll be doing everything we can to finish first. Both UNB and Holland College will be strong, and UNB is hosting nationals. Crandall is back after a year's leave of absence, and Cape Breton is taking a leave of absence this year,” Reid added.

Acadia's strengths should include team defence and team speed.

“Our pitching will be solid. Losing Nick will hurt, but our pitching could be one of our strengths. We don't have any real sluggers other than Mark McPhee, but hopefully small ball and speed will take us a long way.”

Acadia opened its season on the road Sept. 12 at Dalhousie and Sept. 13 at St. F.X. The Axemen home opener is set for Sept. 19 at Kentville's Memorial Park against Holland College, followed by a Sept. 20 home game against UNB.

 

Fundraiser planned

The team is heading to Cuba in February as part of a goodwill mission.

 “We're looking forward to it,” Reid said. “We've already started fundraising, and have some big events planned.”

One of these events is a dinner and auction scheduled for Nov. 21 at Kingstec, with special guests, former major leaguers Matt Stairs and Jason Dickson.

“We're co-fundraising with the Kentville 11U (mosquito) team that will also be making the trip to Cuba.”

While in Cuba, the Axemen will play four games against Cuban teams, tour local schools and present a donation of baseball equipment and school supplies.

“We'll need around $35,000 to travel to Cuba,” Reid said. “We're looking at holding other events to raise funds.”

Donations of used baseball equipment are more than welcome, and can be arranged by contacting David Pilat (acadiabaseball@gmail.com) or Andrew Chase (11557c@acadiau.ca).

Baseball at Acadia was resurrected a year ago after a hiatus of more than 10 years. The Axemen were third in the regular season before losing to Saint Mary's in the playoffs.

“We were one win away from going to nationals,” said coach Mike Reid, who also coached last season.

Chris Burns, back for a second year as head coach, described the outlook as “very promising” for Acadia this season.

“We have a lot of returning players, who know the league and each other, and we've added a couple of strong kids that anyone in the country would love to have.”

The rest of the coaching staff includes Jason Pleasant-Sampson, Gage Reid, and Trevor Croteau and Don Mailman, both of whom are also involved in Kentville Minor Baseball. All but Pleasant-Sampson are new to the team this season.

As an added motivation for the Axemen, the 2015 CBA championship is being hosted at UNB.

“UNB, plus two other teams, will get to be there,” Burns said. “It's a huge motivating factor, and I believe we're in prime position.”

 

‘Quality over quantity’

Acadia held four days of tryouts in late August and early September.

“We didn't get the numbers of new players we were expecting, but that may have been because we have so many returning players,” Reid said.

A 16-player roster was selected, which some might say is a bit thin on numbers. Returning Axemen player Andrew Chase, however, described the roster choices as “quality over quantity.”

Eleven of the 16 players played last season, including pitcher David Pilat (Fenelon Falls, ON) who threw a no-hitter in his first start.

Other returning pitchers include Chase, a Kingston resident, Sam Byers (Truro), Wes Harding (Petite Riviere, NS) and Tristan Reed (West Pubnico). Some of these players are also capable of playing other positions.

One pitcher who has not returned is Nick Tibert, also from Kingston, who is still an Acadia student but has decided not to play baseball this year.

Other returning players include outfielder Sam Gallant (Saint John), and outfielder Brandon McKay and outfielder/catcher Mark McPhee (both from Miramichi, NB).

Mark Matyas, a shortstop from Calgary who was a second-team all-Canadian last year, also returns, along with outfielder Matt Gendron (Boston) and first baseman-catcher Ted Higa (Calgary), the team captain last season.

New players include William Robinson, a hard-throwing six-foot-four, 225-pound pitcher/third baseman from Ottawa who is a potential game-changer.

Other newcomers are catcher/infielder Percy Clark (Thunder Bay, ON); infielder/catcher Gerry Holle (Pictou County); infielder John Flewwelling (Halifax) and infielder Matthew Stanley (Moncton).

“I'm pretty excited about the season,” says Chase, a NKEC graduate. “Last year was good, but I feel we're better this year – solid both on and off the field.”

 

Eye on the prize

“We're going for it this year. We're absolutely planning to improve on third, and we'll be doing everything we can to finish first. Both UNB and Holland College will be strong, and UNB is hosting nationals. Crandall is back after a year's leave of absence, and Cape Breton is taking a leave of absence this year,” Reid added.

Acadia's strengths should include team defence and team speed.

“Our pitching will be solid. Losing Nick will hurt, but our pitching could be one of our strengths. We don't have any real sluggers other than Mark McPhee, but hopefully small ball and speed will take us a long way.”

Acadia opened its season on the road Sept. 12 at Dalhousie and Sept. 13 at St. F.X. The Axemen home opener is set for Sept. 19 at Kentville's Memorial Park against Holland College, followed by a Sept. 20 home game against UNB.

 

Fundraiser planned

The team is heading to Cuba in February as part of a goodwill mission.

 “We're looking forward to it,” Reid said. “We've already started fundraising, and have some big events planned.”

One of these events is a dinner and auction scheduled for Nov. 21 at Kingstec, with special guests, former major leaguers Matt Stairs and Jason Dickson.

“We're co-fundraising with the Kentville 11U (mosquito) team that will also be making the trip to Cuba.”

While in Cuba, the Axemen will play four games against Cuban teams, tour local schools and present a donation of baseball equipment and school supplies.

“We'll need around $35,000 to travel to Cuba,” Reid said. “We're looking at holding other events to raise funds.”

Donations of used baseball equipment are more than welcome, and can be arranged by contacting David Pilat (acadiabaseball@gmail.com) or Andrew Chase (11557c@acadiau.ca).

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