Two for one
Sooners open senior baseball season in Truro this weekend
Entering this season Sydney Sooners manager Jim (Rico) McEachern wanted to add two things to his lineup — a lefthanded pitcher and a big bat, preferably from the left side of the plate, that could hit the long ball and ignite the team’s offence.
Well, he addressed both needs, but with just one player.
While he won’t be on the roster when the Sooners begin their season on the road in Truro this weekend, McEachern said the addition of Devin Mahoney, a standout player with the NCAA Division 1 St. Louis University Billikens, should bolster his team’s chances at another league championship.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of a season h e can have and hopefully he can be a big ingredient that will give us another shot at chasing another title,” said McEachern, who explained that he found out about Mahoney through former Sooner Tyler Anderson, an Australian pitcher who played in Sydney a few seasons back and is now a pitching coaching at St. Louis.
“I sort of reached out to him, explained some of my priorities and he told me he had a great person who might well be able to achieve both facets of what I’m looking for. This particular pitcher — this is very seldom seen in university Division 1 baseball — when he doesn’t pitch, he bats.”
The 6-3, 215-pound southpaw from Pinole, Calif., was one of SLU’s best hitters and best pitchers as a junior last year, leading the team with a .331 batting average while posting a 3.61 ERA on the mound with a 4-2 record, 44 strikeouts and 17 walks in 62.1 innings.
With 15 returning players, the Sooners were already poised to challenge for a league title. They won the championship in 2013 and 2014, but fell short the last two seasons after capturing the regular season pennant both years.
“I think this year our pitching is stronger, I don’t think our defence gets any weaker, and if anything, if we can get a few of the bats going — maybe they were a little flatter than they should have been last year — I definitely think our offence will be that much stronger,” said McEachern.
Speed will also be a key for the Sooners, who despite stealing more bases than the rest of the five-team league combined, weren’t quite as larcenous as McEachern would like.
“We weren’t as aggressive as we could have been and I definitely intend on putting that style back into our game,” he said. “A successful season for me won’t be our third pennant in a row, a successful season to me will be to be there in the finals and be in the running for another league title. I definitely think it can be in reach if we work hard enough at it.”
That work begins this weekend when the Sooners play the three games against the Truro Bearcats.
Mahoney is expected to join the team the following weekend when the Sooners again hit the road to take on the Halifax Pelham Molson Canadians on June 9 and June 10.
The Sooners don’t play in Sydney until June 16 when they host Truro for a twogame homestand at Susan MacEachern Memorial Ball Park.