The Austrian Baseball League started last weekend with a doubleheader between the Schwechat Blue Bats and the Schwaz Tigers. Defending champion SHELLAC Athletics Attnang-Puchheim is going to open the new season next weekend against the Vienna Wanderers. Thanks to the help by the Baseball Austria Press Office, we’ll take a look at all the eight teams.
SHELLAC Athletics Attnang-Puchheim
The SHELLAC Athletics Attnang-Puchheim won its second Austrian championship after 2008 last year thanks to six wins in six games during the playoffs. Afterwards they had to find a new head coach, as Alper Bozkurt left for a new coaching opportunity in Germany. Trevor Cooper has taken over at the helm. Player wise not much has changed in comparison to the end of last season. New import players will arrive in the next couple of weeks, maybe right in time for the European Cup Qualifier in June.
The Schwaz Tigers finished in second place two seasons in a row. They started with a split into the 2011 season and at least hope to repeat their finals appearance. Andy Fleischacker, who also is going to coach the Swiss National Team, is the new head coach and probably also is going to see some action on the mound. Daniel Hayes and Triple Crown Winner Whitney Robinson-Pierce are gone. Back on the field is Paul Astl, who missed the complete 2010 season with a shoulder injury.
After winning the title in 2009, the Vienna Wanderers were ranked in first place following the regular season last year. However the Schwaz Tigers beat them in the semi-finals. Head coach Hiro Sakanashi wants to lead them back to the top. They signed the Canadian southpaw Chris Magarian, who also will be counted on during the European Cup Qualifier in Montpellier, France. At the start of the season they will be without Clemens Cichocki, Francois DuToit and Felix Zimmerle, who are attending college in the US and Canada. No longer on board is also first baseman Matus Kuzma, who retired following the 2010 season.
Union Kufstein Vikings
The Union Kufstein Vikings were in third place after the regular season, but couldn’t get things going during the semi-finals losing in three games to the SHELLAC Athletics Attnang-Puchheim. They have re-signed import Marc Marelich for a second season in Austria. Tobias Schermer has left for Vienna. The pitching staff will be led by Werner Harrasser and Tobias Krimbacher. Also back will be the 41-year-old Koichi Hida.
With the 14-14 record the Vienna Metrostars missed the playoffs in fifth place last year. If the young team shows some consistency in their performance they should be able to return to the playoffs. The big signing in the winter was former minor leaguer Jeffrey Tezak, who is supposed to strengthen the team in the infield and on offense. Also new on the roster is Tobias Schermer, who is coming from the Vikings. Tim Patrick, Jakob Simonsen, J.T. Hilliard and Stefan Ludescher are the key guys on the pitching staff.
Stock City Cubs
The Stock City Cubs celebrated their most successful season in 2010, finishing in sixth place with a 13-16 record. A repeat is going to be difficult, as they will miss key players Reed Brown, Connor Casey and Chris Kropik on the roster. New in Stockerau are Scott Holstein and Junior National Teamer Alex Buchelt, who is coming from the Vienna Metrostars.
Schwechat Blue Bats
The Schwechat Blue Bats had a 12-16 record in seventh place last year, but have high hopes for 2011. Jiri Gal returned to Arrows Ostrava. Arian Quirantes has taken over as head coach for the Blue Bats. Also new on the team is Richard Bermudez. Victor Torres and Julio Diaz will return for another season in the ABL. According to rumors they are talking to players with minor league experience to strengthen the team even further.
The RiCo Highlanders lost just four of 24 games in the Austrian 2nd Division in 2010 to secure an ABL spot for this year’s campaign. They are bringing back Josh Stewart, who led the team on the mound and at the plate. New on the roster are Chris Kropik and brothers Stefan and Marco Schmidt. As usual with promoted teams, their success will be determined how fast they will adjust to the higher level.
|Dates and Times are subject to change! In case of doubt check with the responsible national federation!|
|Saturday, April 16 2011|
|14:00||Vienna Wanderers||Athletics Attnang-Puchheim||Spenadlwiese Pr...|
|Saturday, April 23 2011|
|13:00||Athletics Attnang-Puchheim||Rico Highlanders||Athletics Ballp...|
|Saturday, April 30 2011|
|12:00||Rico Highlanders||Schwaz Tigers||Martin-Schütz-...|
|13:00||Athletics Attnang-Puchheim||Schwechat Blue Bats||Athletics Ballp...|
|14:00||Vienna Wanderers||Stock City Cubs||Spenadlwiese Pr...|