The Herts Eagles had a very successful 2012 finishing the season with a .500 win-loss percentage. We asked Eagles manager, Duncan Hoyle, for his thoughts on the Eagles, ahead of their 2013 season opening game at league debutants, MK Coyotes.
We are just days away from Opening Day of the BBF Single-A League. Do you feel ready or has the bad weather in March affected preparations?
Duncan Hoyle: It has affected our preparations. We have lost two HSL games to the weather, but several of the Eagles have played for other Herts teams during the HSL. All clubs and teams must have been affected by weather but we have had some good indoor and outdoor training sessions and overall I think we are in a good position going into the league season.
What are your main goals for this season?
Duncan Hoyle: The main goal for me is to provide a team for new players to be able to come into the sport and play in a friendly and committed team, in an enjoyable environment. We don’t take things too seriously but we do try to do things the right way. I want all the players who play for the Eagles to have the chance to develop as baseball players.
What win-loss percentage would be seen as a successful season for the team and is it realistic to expect your team to reach the playoffs or even challenge for the title?
Duncan Hoyle: I don’t want to set targets as I think this is unhelpful for us, as we won’t know the quality of the teams we will play against until a few weeks into the season at least. However I would like to think we will be competitive for the most part.
Will the entry of the Herts Ravens in the AAA League affect your team’s chances this season by diluting the strength of the Herts rosters across a larger number of teams?
Duncan Hoyle: For a short time, possibly. However in the long-term I think the introduction of the Ravens will benefit all of the existing teams as we should attract more players to join the club, as we have teams at all BBF levels, and this will in turn increase competition and movement between players within the teams.
Who are the players we should look out for this year?
Duncan Hoyle: We have several young players who I think could have a very good season, it would be unfair of me to single anyone out at this stage. But I am looking forward to the return from injury of last season’s joint Single-A home run-leader Adrian Smithers, the game is never dull when he is involved!
Which of your opponents in the league are likely to be the biggest challengers for the national title?
Duncan Hoyle: Difficult to say. In my time in baseball Single-A has been slightly damaged by always having one or two teams who should obviously be playing a higher grade, but at first glance this year seems to have a balanced line up. London Marauders, Guildford and the Old Timers are always tough to beat.
Which league game are you looking forward to most?
Duncan Hoyle: I am looking forward to the trips to new teams MK, Leicester and Haverhill – all new diamonds for us.
The postseason playoffs will be played at the brand new Farnham Park. Will this act as an even greater incentive for players to reach the postseason?
Duncan Hoyle: I don’t think so. I would hope that players will want to get to the playoffs wherever they are held, but it would be nice to play at such good facilities such as Farnham.
What is your message to Herts Baseball fans ahead of Opening day?
Duncan Hoyle: Watch this space for bigger and better things at Herts!