East Abbotsford residents who live near DeLair Park can expect to hear the crack of the bat ringing out with increased frequency this season.
That’s because the Abbotsford Cardinals are boasting a great deal of depth, talent and experience in the batting order as they embark on a new B.C. Premier Baseball League campaign this weekend.
Head coach Corey Eckstein, who moves up from the Junior Cardinals to run the senior squad this year, believes the offence has the pieces to light up the scoreboard. He’s hoping that potency carries them to a breakthrough season on the elite under-18 circuit, after falling short in the first round of the playoffs in 2011.
“Our junior team has been really good since ’08,” Eckstein noted. “I don’t see why it can’t translate over from junior to senior, and the expectations never change on my end.
“If we don’t make the Final Four this year, I’d be very disappointed. And the guys feel that way, too.”
Eckstein’s reasons for optimism begin with Brandon Todoruk. The third baseman is a weapon of mass destruction at the dish – he won the BCPBL’s Triple Crown last season, leading the league in batting average (.404), runs batted in (32) and home runs (three, tied with five other players).
“He’s pretty potent,” Eckstein observed, “and he’s proven himself offensively at every level he’s been at.”
Beyond Todoruk, the Cards have five other position players heading into their third seasons with the senior squad – centre fielder Tyler Krahn, left fielder Zach Cardoso, first baseman Nick Sheehan, shortstop Adam Revel and catcher Ryan Green.
“They’re going to be expected to drive in runs for us this year,” Eckstein said.
On the mound, the Cards will rely heavily on Matthew Forsythe, a member of the B.C. Selects squad last summer, and rookie Daniel Koo, who led the B.C. junior league in earned run average last season.
From Eckstein’s perspective, this season has the makings of a memorable one, in light of the fact he’s coached 13 of the Cards’ graduating veterans since they were nine years old.
“To see them in their last year, I want them to really enjoy it and embrace it,” he said. “It’s going to be a special year.”
• The Cardinals open the BCPBL regular season on the road on Saturday, taking on the Fraser Valley Chiefs in a doubleheader at Whalley Athletic Park (12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.). They host their home opener at DeLair Park on Sunday, as the Coquitlam Reds visit for 12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. games.
A full Cardinals schedule is available at bcpbl.com.