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Barrie Baycats carry high expectations for 2023 season

Barrie's boys of summer are back and gearing up for next week's season and home opener.

The Barrie Baycats kick off their Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) season against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Vintage Throne Stadium on May 18.

Last year, the Baycats had a disappointing end to the season, losing in the first round of playoffs to the Maple Leafs.

The team has 11 new players, including some imports from the Dominican Republic, which Baycats president Josh Matlow believes will improve the team.

"It was a long off-season with a lot of work put in. There were a lot of good changes fans will see at the park. We're going to have a big team. Not only are the [players] large in size, but large in quantity," Matlow said.

"We're going to have a full roster, so we'll have guys competing for positions, and it's going to be very competitive this year."

It's a message echoed by Baycats pitching coach and reliever Brad Grieveson.

"We've added a ton of depth which is fantastic. We are deep in a lot of positions, and we've added to an already strong bullpen," Grieveson said. "We are looking to compete and make the next step."

The Baycats held their annual media day Thursday night, allowing fans to attend an open practice.

"Just to see some of the guys, to meet some of the guys we haven't met before … we're pretty excited to get out here. The weather is beautiful, and baseball is in the air," Matlow said.

The Baycats were league champions six straight years from 2014 to 2019 before coming short the past two seasons.

Matlow said the goal now is to get back to their winning ways.

"We've been faced with some challenges. With COVID-19, a shortened season leading to no imports, we've been battling to regroup after our six-peat," Matlow said.

"I think we have the right core of guys, and I think we've added a few nice pieces this year."

Baycats first baseman, designated hitter and captain Ryan Rijo of Barrie returns to the team for his sixth straight season.

He said he's confident this team can turn things around and expects the team to have a great season.

"We've got the right mix of veterans and young players. It's always nice to have that youth around," Rijo said. "There's a lot of exciting things here in Barrie. I think we have a really good shot of being on top of the league again."

The Baycats finished with a 21-20 record in 2022. Their first game of the season starts at 7:35 p.m. Top Stories

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