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Bearcats senior team looks to rebound from tough 2017 season

Veteran player John Chapman will lead the Bearcats on the field this season. Chapman has served as player-coach of the team, but this season has handed the coaching reins to John Smith.
Veteran player John Chapman will lead the Bearcats on the field this season. Chapman has served as player-coach of the team, but this season has handed the coaching reins to John Smith. - SaltWire Network

TRURO, N.S. – Many of the same faces will don the Truro Bearcats jersey this season, however, new energy will surround the team as it looks to take its place among contenders in the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League.

“The thing is, the whole team is going to surprise everybody, the whole league,” said head coach John Smith, who last week filled out his roster.

“The guys are a little more energetic and have more enthusiasm because they know they’re going to get an opportunity to excel a bit more with the people I’ve got helping us out this year. I’m excited for them.”

The Bearcats return many players from last year’s squad that posted a 9-19 record during the regular campaign and bowed out in three straight games to the Sydney Sooners in a playoff semifinal.

This season marks Smith’s first year as coach of the senior Bearcats, taking over for longtime player-coach John Chapman.

“I’ve got nothing but respect for John for trying to play and coach,” said Smith, “but it is very difficult to do that and improve your players.”

“I think this season the whole team is going to thrive pretty well because they no longer have to look to a guy who is trying to play himself. Now they can keep things on an even keel. I think I can help them with their hitting, help them improve and put them in a position where they can get better.”

Now that the team has been picked, the Bearcats are preparing this week for their first game of the new season on Friday against the visiting Kentville Wildcats. Start time at the TAAC Grounds is 7:30 p.m.

While Smith is pushing for a more competitive team this year, he also knows that having a successful club is about more than results.

“I just want the boys to have fun, that’s the biggest thing,” he said.

“They need to enjoy playing, need to come to the ballfield and have a good time doing it. They put their heart and soul into the game, but if they aren’t having fun they might as well go home and do something else.”

He also stressed that while fun is the most important factor, he is also in it to win it.

“I’d like to see us at least over .500 for most of the year,” said Smith.

“I want to stay on top of the leaderboard, not on the bottom. I don’t want to be chasing the playoff spot, I’d like us to be up higher as it takes a lot of stress off the guys.

“Eventually I’ll be having a little meeting with all of them and they will know what to expect and what I expect. I’m excited, it’s going to be fun.”

cody.mceachern@trurodaily.com

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