Victoria HarbourCats look to extend season further this year

New coach Brian McRae excited about prospects for new season

With the Victoria HarbourCats 2017 season about to get underway, the team is already looking ahead to a more successful post-season this year.

The HarbourCats kick off their fifth West Coast League campaign this Thursday night on the road against the WCL’s newest team, the Port Angeles Lefties.The Cats are coming off a roller coaster performance, having finished last season with a 40-14 record, and setting the league record for longest winning streak at 19.

But things didn’t go as well in the post-season, as they were swept by the Bellingham Bells in the first round.

This year, new head coach Brian McRae believes it isn’t all about the number of wins the team tallies, but going deeper in the playoffs.

“It’s not as much about duplicating the regular season success that the team had, it’s trying to get into the playoffs. If we win 32 or 35 games and get into the playoffs and go farther than they did last year, that’s a successful season,” he said.

Over the past few months the club has bolstered its roster, signing veteran outfielder Kevin Collard, who starred for the team in 2015, and right-handed pitcher Indigo Diaz, who made four appearances last summer, including one start. Rounding out the pitching staff is lefty Jett Wodiuk and right-hander Taylor Prokopois.

Most recently, the team signed outfielders Ryan Hooper and D.J. Porter, as well as catcher Shane McGuire. Also set to make waves this year is reliever Claire Eccles, the league’s first female pitcher.

The key, said McRae, is getting the players to operate as a team.

“Hopefully it will be an aggressive team that can catch and throw the ball well, be a good defensive team, not make a lot of mistakes” he said.

Catcher Riley Guntrip is excited to hit the field for his second season with the team and is optimistic about the season ahead.

“With all the changes that have happened, it’s going to be a good season,” he said. “I just want to play as good as I can and help the team.”

The HarbourCats, warm up with an exhibition 12-inning game against a Victoria Mavericks rep team Tuesday (May 31) at 6:35 p.m. at Royal Athletic Park, then head to Port Angeles to play the Lefties on Thursday.

They travel to Yakima Valley to play the Pippins in a three-game series, then play their home opener June 5 against the Wenatchee Apple Sox, also at 6:35 p.m.

For a full schedule or to purchase tickets online, visit harbourcats.com.

kendra.wong@vicnews.com

 

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