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New-look Sylvan Lake Gulls ready for 2024 campaign

Gulls excited to begin quest for their first-ever WCBL title

Time is up.

Baseball season has officially arrived for the Sylvan Lake Gulls and the team will begin their fourth season in the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) this weekend.

They'll host the Brooks Bombers at Gulls Stadium at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd followed by an afternoon matchup at home with the Lethbridge Bulls on Sunday at 2:05 p.m.

Head coach Jason Chatwood told The Advocate on Thursday that most of the team has arrived with more trickling in over the next few days.

Fortunately for the Gulls, they've had more returning players than originally expected. What started as only five returnees had turned into seven.

"We've got guys returning from last year's team and from our team a couple of years ago. Some leadership like that will be huge and guys who are comfortable with the town," he said. "We've also added some local guys and we're looking forward to the weekend."

The Gulls will lean on returning players such as pitcher Kyle Froehlich, Matty Fung, pitcher Hunter Jones, Jack Schark, pitcher Josh Tucker, and pitcher James Brock.

"We're excited about all the returners," Chatwood said.

"Froehlich came off playing in a power five conference at Nebraska it's going to be massive to have his experience on the mound... We're excited to welcome in the new guys. I can't wait to see them in the lineup and have them get comfortable with Sylvan Lake, the crowd, and the whole experience of the league."

Fung, who arrived in Sylvan Lake on Thursday, said he's looking forward to being back with the Gulls for his third season in the WCBL.

"I'm just excited to be playing in front of these great fans that we have and to meet these new guys that we've brought in this year," he said.

"I think we always have a good shot at the championship. This year hopefully we can take down the Okotoks Dawgs who've taken us out the last two years."

The San Francisco native arrived in central Alberta after he wrapped up his season playing baseball for the men's team at the University of San Francisco.

It was his first season playing in his hometown which he said was a great experience with his family close by to watch games regularly.

"It was great and I always love coming back to Sylvan Lake. When I got the call back I was super excited. These fans are just awesome because they show up every night and day for us."

Among the local players suiting up for the Gulls includes outfielder Ryley Doig, who is a freshman this season after suiting up with the Red Deer Braves last season. He also played some games with the Red Deer Riggers.

They've also added freshman catcher Gavin Galenza from Camrose, Red Deer's Matthew Murray, and Innisfail's Nathan Flewelling. All of whom played the U18 AAA Red Deer Braves in recent years.

Murray said this season he'll be playing full-time with the Gulls but will also suit up for the Riggers of the senior AAA Sunburst League. It will be a bit of a juggling act but he's excited for the challenge.

"I've been on the bench with the Gulls the last couple of years. It's quite something watching these guys play so it's nice to have an opportunity to be on the team this year and get a few more chances in playing time," he said.

The last two seasons Murray had been on the Gulls reserve roster and didn't see much playing time except for a couple of pinch-hitting opportunities. This year he's chomping at the bit for a bigger role and to play in front of the Gulls faithful.

"It's not often you get to be on a team that's playing in front of a couple thousand fans. That experience is something you can't really find anywhere else around the area. It's a unique opportunity for me."

On Thursday the Gulls played in an exhibition match at Gulls Stadium where they defeated the Riggers 6-3.

They also debuted new uniforms that say 'Lake Boys' across the chest as well as pinstripes that run down the full length of the jersey and pants.

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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