After just missing out on the Australian Baseball League finals last season, the Canberra Cavalry have left no stone unturned in their quest to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Manager Keith Ward said a poor start to the season had cost his side dearly.
“I felt like we were one of the best teams in the league in the second half of the season but we paid the price for a slow start,” Ward said.
”We were six or seven games behind the top four and by the end of the regular season we missed out on the finals by half a game.”
In an effort to ensure the Cavalry make a flying start to the coming season, Ward has been in solid training with locally based players for the past three months, which is about six weeks earlier than has been the case in the past.
Away from the ballpark, there have also been several key developments.
Geelong-South Korea and Auckland have exited the league, leaving a six-team competition for the 2023/24 season.
The Canberra Cavalry now have four South Koreans on their roster, along with two players from the Yokohama BayStars, bringing the total Japanese contingent in the team to four; there are also six US players.
The 14-strong overseas contingent is the highest in the club’s history.
They will join the 10 local Australian players who have committed to the Cavalry.
Ward believes developing team camaraderie won’t be an issue.
“I’ve always found the language of baseball is pretty standard,” he said.
”We all have the same approach and we have always had a very strong clubhouse with a culture that encourages and supports each other.
”Our captain Robbie Perkins is a great leader and people follow his lead, while the imports have really bought into the Canberra community. It will be exciting with such a diverse mix.”
The strategic signings appear to have provided the Cavalry with greater depth than has been the case in previous seasons, including a highly experienced 37-year-old pitcher from the US.
Several young local players will also train with the squad as an important precursor to playing in the ABL.
Having locked in the roster, the focus is now on the opening game against the Sydney Blue Sox at the Blacktown International Sports Park on 17 November.
The Cavalry then return to Canberra for their first game at home, on 23 November against the Melbourne Aces, by which time Ward is confident his charges will be in a better position than they were last season.