Cardinals predict a stellar season
By Peter Rukavina
Journalism Co-op, Sports Xpress
The Cardinal Newman boys’ varsity baseball team kicked off its season with a roster of raw talent that Cardinals coach Jeff Zwolak predicts will only get better as the season unfolds.
The new and improved Cardinals received a pleasant surprise with the amount of grade 9 talent that joined the roster this year, and some observers are wondering if the Newman freshmen might not just be the team’s ticket to OFSAA.
“The grade 9 crop this year is probably the best in the city. I’m confident saying that,” said Zwolak. “So far, in our first two games, I’ve used four pitchers and three of them were grade 9s. I bet you no other school can say that.”
Newman’s opening games were highlighted by the high school debuts of three grade 9 pitchers. Tyrell Hebert, who pitched the first four innings in the season opener against St. Thomas More, is one of Newman’s starters for the season. Along with Tyrell is Noah Skirrow, another one of the starting pitchers who threw in the first four scoreless innings in game two against St. Jean de Brébeuf.
“I’m trying to only start two pitchers because the season now is not so crammed,” said Zwolak.
Relieving Tyrell and Noah are grade 9 student Ethan Hammond-Srsan and grade 11 student Hayden Bailey.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals will play without two of their key players for the majority of the season. Grade 12 students Troy Valeriano and Adam Rossit are both on tour playing for the Ontario Blue Jays.
“They are officially on the team, but because of their commitment to rep ball, they might not be able to make any of our league games,” indicated the Cardinal Newman coach. “I wish I could have them every game, but my mental state is that if we have them, it’s a bonus.”
The loss of Valeriano and Rossit is truly unfortunate. Not only do they take with them their unquestionable talent, but the loss of their leadership is something that needs to be addressed.
When asked who he thought stood out as the next leader, first baseman Nick Minken immediately replied with his younger brother’s name. Richard Minken, a grade 11 student and the Cardinals’ shortstop, is the kind of hard-nosed player every coach looks for.
“Right now, I’d say he is the current mentor and leader of the team,” said older brother Nick.
Zwolak agreed. “He’s one of those guys that show leadership skills. He’ll step up and pat a guy on the back if they make a mistake.”
The team finds itself playing a new fall season schedule rather than the usual spring. Reason being is that instead of forcing an entire season into the only possible month (May), the teams can play a lighter schedule which will, in the end, help pitchers rest and allow more time to replay games that were rained out.
The Cardinals look to have a successful season ahead of them with a deeper roster and new talent leading the way.
“Last year was a story of having some good pieces, but not enough,” said Zwolak. “This year, those pieces are back and we add all those grade 9s to the equation.”
“That will be the big difference this year.”Visit - The Buzz Board