Jake Forsythe will be a welcome addition to a “rebuilding” Warriors side as they chase a sixth successive Tamworth Baseball competition A-grade title.
That quest begins on Saturday with a grand final rematch with Cougars.
Warriors will be fielding a different-looking side to the one that took to the diamond in last years decider after several departures through retirement and relocation.
Mick Martin and Rob Chandler have both packed away the gloves, president Dave Ardill said, while Mitch Holt has moved away for work.
Two of their more prominent hitters, Martin and Holt will leave a couple of big holes to fill in the batting department.
Holt topped the hit list in the grand final with three singles and a double.
Forsythe will help fill the void.
“He’s a great hitter, a class short stop and a good strong arm in the outfield,” Ardill said.
They might also employ him from the pitchers mound from time to time.
“He brings a lot of tools to the team,” he said.
Forsythe played all his junior baseball with the club, and suited up for a couple of seasons after returning from the US where he was on college scholarship, but has had a couple of years off.
He’ll provide an experienced head along with Johnny Warren.
Warren was the most valuable player of the grand final, and fortunately for Warriors hasn’t joined the departure list.
Cougars first up will be a tough assignment, Ardill said.
“They have got a strong team,” he said.
“They’ve got the core of Kris Bird, Scott Hurn and Brock Ridgewell.”
He is anticipating a competitive season with Armidale Outlaws back for their second season after falling just short of the grand final last season.
“They’ve have been fantastic,” he said.
“To have them being strong in the competition is great for us.”
They’ll play six regular games up there over the season.
The Gunnedah Giants were also a lot more competitive last season.
Warriors learnt that in the first round with the two playing out a 4-all draw in a rain shortened clash.
The Giants play Armidale in the other A grade clash on Saturday. All games will be played in Tamworth with the B grade games commencing at 12.15pm followed by A grade at 2.40pm.
Warriors also go into the season as defending champions in B grade after beating Armidale Orange by a run in a titanic battle that went into overtime.