It's a sure sign that summer has arrived. The Moose Jaw Miller Express were back on the field at Ross Wells Park on Wednesday taking part in their first workout as a team for the upcoming 2014 Western Major Baseball League season.
The Miller Express will kick off the year on Friday night when they host their Central Division rivals, the Saskatoon Yellow Jackets.
There were plenty of familiar faces and some new faces on the field for Moose Jaw during their first practice.
Miles Hunter – an outfielder from Calgary, Alberta – is one of the returning players that big things will be expected from this season as he comes off his senior year at the University of Calgary.
“Coming back to finish it up here in Moose Jaw, I wouldn't want to play anywhere else,” said Hunter. “To be able to come back and play and have such a great season last year with the team, and to be able to do it again, it's going to be awesome, really looking forward to it.”
Hunter was outstanding in his first season with the Miller Express last year as he posted a .337 batting average, eight doubles, two triples, two home runs and 23 RBI. He was also stellar in the outfield, posting a .971 fielding percentage.
Those numbers were good enough for him to be named the 2014 Canadian Rookie of the Year in the WMBL.
“You always want to come in with goals and it's fair to say that I really want to get on base a lot and give guys behind me a good chance to knock me around,” said Hunter. “Last year that was where a lot of the success came from, guys like Hank Stewart and Mike Corso, just getting on for them and letting them do the rest, so being able to do a similar thing this year to very well.”
While Hunter is expected to be one of the leaders in the field, the same will be expected out of Terry McNabb on the mound.
The Davidson native is making a return to Moose Jaw after playing elsewhere during the 2013 season. “It's nice to be back and see everyone,” said McNabb.
McNabb, a right handed pitcher, spent last summer playing in the Coastal Plain Collegiate League for the Gastonia Grizzlies before heading back to North Carolina Central University to complete his senior season.
He said he enjoyed playing down south last summer, but is happy to be back in black and yellow to finish off his career.
“There was ups and downs, it could have been better and could have been worse,” said McNabb. “I was out of the bullpen, which was a little bit different. It was a good league to be in, but you always miss home. This is the place to be.”
During his 2012 WMBL season with Moose Jaw, he started nine games and led the team with four complete games, 67.2 innings pitched and 52 strikeouts.
“I just hope I can make some quality starts and help out the team as much as possible and bring everybody to the ball park,” said McNabb.
He'll get the chance to do that on opening night as he's been tab to start the Miller Express' season opener against the Yellow Jackets. First pitch for that game is at 7:00pm. Catch all the action with voice of the Millers Marc Smith online at www.mjmillerexpress.com.