The boys of summer are back on the field on Thursday night.
The Moose Jaw Miller Express kick-off the 2018 Western Major Baseball League when they host the Yorkton Cardinals at Ross Wells Park on Opening Night.
"I'm definitely looking forward to getting back to playing baseball and just seeing what this team is all about and hopefully we can win more games than last year," said pitcher Jesse Marks, who is returning for his third season with the Miller Express.
The Millers went 23-25 last season and were back in the post-season after two years on the outside looking in, but fell in four games to the eventual champion Swift Current 57s.
As with any baseball season, there's optimism around Ross Wells heading into the 2018 campaign.
"We're gelling pretty good, we had our first practice (Wednesday) and I felt like a couple of guys can swing the bat pretty good and obviously our park is pretty small, so the more power we've got, the better we're going to be, so I feel like this team is going to be pretty good," said Marks, who was 0-4 in 11 games with a 7.39 ERA and seven strikeouts last season.
Rookie shortstop Ty Lightly might not be hitting many balls out of the park, but he said he's excited to bring his game to the field with the Millers.
"I'm real pumped to come up here, ever since Coach Hunt called me and asked me if I wanted to come up to Canada, I was all for it right from the get-go," said Lightly during practice on Wednesday at Yara Centre.
Lightly hit .285 with three home runs, 15 doubles, 31 RBI, 40 runs scored and two stolen bases in 50 games with Garden City community college.
"I'm not the big power guy like some of these guys, but I try to get on base as much as I can and try to cause pitchers some headaches and then big infield guy, I field ground balls and help my pitchers out," said the Littleton, Colorado product.
Marks only appeared in six games with Adrian College this spring, throwing five innings with a 7.20 ERA and six strikeouts. He allowed three earned runs in his first appearance of the season, but limited hitters to just one run in five games after that.
After a slow spring, Marks said he’s chomping at the bit to get on the mound.
"I didn't throw as much as I hoped, so that's another reason that I wanted to come back here because I knew I was going to be able to throw a lot and get better as a pitcher," said Marks.
"My arm feels great, it feels better than it ever has."
The Miller Express and Cardinals hit the field at 7 p.m. Thursday.