05/27/2017 10:00 AM -
WHITING, Ind.-The Northwest Indiana Oilmen start their 2017 season with hopes to repeat as Midwest Collegiate League Champions in Bloomington, Ill. as NWI takes on the Bloomington Bobcats Saturday.
The Oilmen (0-0) will take on tbe Bobcats (0-1) will play at O’Neil Park in Bloomington, Ill., starting at 1 p.m. (CT) Saturday. O’Neil Park is located at 1515 West Chestnut Street, Bloomington IL 61701.
Adam Enright, Northwest Indiana Oilmen Manager, said he wants the Oilmen to be the team to beat in the league.
"We have guys returning that will put us in a position to have a winning team," Enright said.
NWI has nine returners this season, the most in Oilmen history. Eight come from the championship season in 2016, including two-time MCL MVP Tyler Sroczynski (Dyer, Ind./Trinity Christian), who hit .354 with seven home runs, 53 runs scored and 32 RBI in 2016. The ninth is Brian Jestice (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Evansville), who was 5-1, posted a 3.64 ERA and a team-high 54.1 innings pitched while striking out 40 fof the Oilmen in 2015.
Richard Yelnick (New Lenox, Ill./Trinity Christian), Christian Howell (Aurora, Ill./Minnesota State), Sam Geraci (Steger, Ill./Illinois-Springfield), Hunter Clark (Granger, Ind./Eastern Illinois), Clay Keltner (Highland, Ind./Cornerstone) are also returning to the Oilmen this season to add more pitching depth.
"Sroczynski was the two-time reigning MVP of the MCL, Howell has logged a lot of innings for us, Geraci did a really good job last year, Yelnick had a good spring. Nisle will be good and Amir Wright will be our lead off guy and we will rely on him," Enright said.
Hunter Thorn (Portage, Ind./Purdue Northwest) and Amir Wright (Griffith, Ind./Saint Joseph's College/Northern Kentucky) played in the MCL last season with the Southland Vikings, but this is their first season with the Oilmen.
Enright said he is looking forward to seeing how the young guys will do this season.
"Guys like Hofstra, Farrell, Graziano, Williams coming from high school, going into college will help our team," Enright said. "Our expectation is to develop the skills of the players so they can go to school in the fall and their coaches will notice a big difference in their play."
Bo Hofstra (Schererville, Ind), who is finishing his senior season at Illiana Christian, hopes to make an immediate impact with the Oilmen with his 6-foot-5 build. He has committed to play for Purdue University. Tommy Farrell (Chicago, Ill.) has been a standout outfielder for St. Laurence High School in his almost four years with the school. Farrell is committed to play at University of Illinois-Chicago in the fall. Joe Graziano (Schererville, Ind.), who was a two-sport athlete at Lake Central and has committed to play baseball at Butler University in the fall, looks to make an impact on the Oilmen. Graziano threw a perfect game earlier this season against Bishop Noll on March 28.
Enright is now in his third season as Oilmen manager and his sixth year overall after spending time as an assistant coach since the first year of the team in 2012. Pat Antone will join the Oilmen coaching staff in his first season and will serve as an assistant coach. Antone is an assistant baseball coach at Andrean High School.
The Oilmen will play a 53-game schedule, with 50 regular season games, 25 road games and 25 home games, including three exhibition games against the Serbian National Baseball Team from July 7-9 at Oil City Stadium. NWI opens the season on a 10-game road trip before coming home for opening night at Oil City Stadium, scheduled for Thursday, June 8 as the Oilmen take on the Southland Vikings starting at 7:10 p.m.
Fans can listen to every game live this season on http://www.ustream.tv/channel/northwest-indiana-oilmen.
For up-to-date information on the Oilmen, we encourage you to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @NWIOilmen and visit our website at www.nwioilmen.com.