After finishing at the bottom of the table last season, the only way is up according to new Penrith Panthers baseball head coach Ray Tozer.
Following back to back years of missing the playoffs, Penrith are praying for a better year ahead when the 2019/20 NSW State Baseball League season gets underway this Saturday against Ryde.
Speaking with the Weekender ahead of Saturday’s season opener, Tozer said his side are excited for the upcoming season and are hopeful of lifting themselves off the bottom of the ladder.
“Everyone is pumped for the season ahead. We’ve got a quality roster this season and we should turn it around this year,” he said.
“It won’t be hard to improve on what we did last year. I keep using last year as a motivation for them. That was rock bottom and we can only go up from here.
“Everyone has taken that on board and it’s looking good.”
Along with several familiar faces Penrith have recruited relatively well this off-season, picking up two imports from the United States to add some experience to their line-up.
“We’ve got two imports, an outfielder from Houston named Sean Washington and Cody Ivey from Colorado,” Tozer said.
“Both players have played pro baseball, and Cody is actually flying in from Germany where his season just finished over there.
“Both guys have plenty of experience under their belts and will be great additions to our team.”
Penrith will play two matches against the Ryde Hawks in the opening round, with the first to be played Saturday afternoon at ELS Hall Park, while the second will be played on Wednesday night also at ELS Hall Park.
Tozer said Ryde will be a tough opponent first up, while Baulkham Hills will once again be the team to beat.
“Ryde are always in the mix and are a very consistent ball club,” he said.
“Baulkham Hills are always the benchmark and have been for 20-odd years. Blacktown will have another strong side again this year and Canterbury are always tough to beat.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for nearly a decade.