KENTVILLE, NS - After being knocked out of playoff contention by Truro last year, winning the first game of the season on the Bearcat’s home turf could represent a turning point for the Kentville Wildcats.
The Wildcats opened the 2018 Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League season with a 10-5 win over Truro on May 18. New Wildcats head coach Chris Salsman said he was really pleased with the team’s defence. They turned a couple of double plays and the game featured a strong pitching performance from 19-year-old Zack Zinck.
Salsman said every player contributed with pretty much everybody having a base hit and they were able to steal a few bases. He said the nail-biting came in the middle of the game but the Wildcats were able to pad the lead.
“We’ve been talking about how it’s important to get off to a strong start,” Salsman said. “It’s a fresh start after a couple of seasons of not making the playoffs.”
He said the players have been working hard in the gym during the off season, they’re dedicated and they love playing at home. The Wildcats play next in Halifax on May 22 and the home opener will be played against Dartmouth at Kentville Memorial Park on May 30.
He said they have a good mix of returning players and new faces, giving the current roster a lot of depth. Of the 20 players on hand for the season opener against the Bearcats, he said probably 16 saw action, including a few junior-age players. Salsman said it’s good to have plenty of options and he’s looking forward to a competitive season.
In his return to the coaching position, Salsman said he’d like to see the team hitting better and they’ll be working to improve base running. He said they’re also working to cut down on the number of stolen bases they’re giving up. Salsman said they don’t want to tackle too many goals at once but they’ve been working toward improving these three aspects of play.
Salsman, who has a long history with the Wildcats organization, served as coach for the 2005, 2006 and 2007 seasons. After taking time off to devote to his young family, he said, “the kids are now old enough that I’m allowed to go back to the park.”
He said it feels great to be back and he’s taking the same approach to coaching the team now as he did in the past. He said the only difference is that he’s now in his 40’s and coaching players in their 20’s. He was coaching his contemporaries and friends the last time around.
Salsman has coached five or six of the current roster members before during his time as coach for the Nova Scotia Youth Selects team, so there is a level of familiarity.
Salsman said the Wildcats also have a great executive, including president Sandy VanBlarcom, who looks after a lot of the behind-the-scenes logistics that a lot of people wouldn’t necessarily think about.
For more information on the Kentville Wildcats, visit the team’s Facebook page.
Did you know?
- New Wildcats head coach Chris Salsman played 11 seasons for the Wildcats (1994 -2004).
- He collected 453 hits and drew 291 walks giving him a career .338 batting average and on base percentage of .459.
- A slick fielder, Salsman was named the NSSBL all-star second baseman in both the Wildcat championship seasons (1999 and 2000).
- In 2005, Salsman took over as coach of the Wildcats. In his three seasons as coach he guided Kentville to the league finals twice and was named NSSBL Coach of The Year in all three seasons.
- Salsman later went on to coach the Nova Scotia Youth Selects Program.