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Tomcats open season

 Phoenix to guide a Tomcat rising   


   Junior baseball team returns with new skip but same annual goals


  Saturday, May 18, 2019


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ST. THOMAS - Another season of St. Thomas Tomcat baseball is in the air.

The boys are summer return with their annual goals of the winning the provincial junior elimination tournament and going for a medal at Canadians.

"That is our goal," says first year manager Arizona Phoenix. "We want to win elims and go on to win a National championship ultimately."

Phoenix steps up as team manager, after Bob Lofgren stepped down following last season. Phoenix is familiar with the Tomcats, having been the assistant coach for the past two seasons. His background also includes five years coaching with the London Badgers organization.

"I've tried to take as much as I can and soak up all of their knowledge," said Phoenix. "You get to learn from guys like Bob Lofgren. He's a really smart coach and intelligent guy. I got to pick up a lot of stuff from him."

Matt Gooding returns as hitting coach, while Kyle Zimmer (pitching) Tom Johnston and Paul Pettipiece join the staff.

"I want to have a line-up that is tough one through nine, a nightmare for pitchers to pitch too. I want us to be a strong defensive team, an aggressive team," explains Phoenix, on his type of club. "I want to see where everybody can fit in. I want to see everybody play. I want everybody over that time to define their roles."

Catcher Matt Brooks, pitcher Alex Lamont, third baseman Daniel Lichty and first baseman Kevin Bowden, return as veteran leaders.

Pitchers Michael Mommersteeg and Alex Keys and centre fielder Tyler D'Alessandro, will join the team for Eliminations, after a stint with their summer clubs.

That gives plenty of opportunity for the new faces to show coaches their skills.

"We have about 12 new guys coming in this year. We're really excited about having them here and continuing to build the program," said Phoenix.

Currently the Tomcats have plenty of local talent. Brooks, Mommersteeg, outfielder Josh Hare, pitcher Zack Banks, Brendan Johnston and pitcher Justin McDonald, are playing for their hometown team.

Pitchers Connor Ambrogio, Alex Pettipiece, Jackson Van Bakel and outfielder Alex Liem, hail from Dorchester. Infielder Alex Fishback arrives from Tillsonburg.

For the regular season, the Tomcats will again play in the Southwestern Senior League, tuning up for Eliminations.

"I want us to go play hard and continue building a winning culture," said Phoenix. "We're going to go out and try to win every game for sure. But at the same time it's a good chance for us to give guys their innings and get their work in, develop guys going back to their schools."

Last summer, the Tomcats lost in the quarterfinals at Canadians, held in St. Thomas, after winning a bronze medal in 2017.

The Tomcats dropped their first two league games of the 2019 campaign, before dumping the Simcoe in an exhibition tilt, 10-1, on Saturday at Cardinal Field. An eight run first inning put the Tomcats in command quickly, capitalizing on five hits and a trio of base on balls.

Bowden, Liem and D'Alessandro, Hare and Cheyne Fischer, each had a pair of hits.

Ilderton snuck by the Tomcats, 3-2, on Friday.

"We had one inning where we made a few errors and spotted them a couple runs. Against a team like that, it's very difficult. They threw some good arms against us," said Phoenix. "I was really happy with our guys, especially for being early in the season. We stuck with them for nine innings, toe to toe, so that was really good to see from our young group."

The Tomcats have four road games and a senior tournament in Brampton, before returning for a home game at Emslie Field, June 6th.