Welcome Back! 15 Players Returning to the Coop!!
Infielder Kelly Corl Leads a Pack of Vets Returning to Edmonton
What a difference a year makes?! The Edmonton Riverhawks have an instant team nucleus heading into the 2023 season thanks to the number of players returning to the coop commonly known as RE/MAX Field. 15 of the 34 contracts signed have the names of the Riverhawks from the previous season.
Buddies Kelly Corl and Tom Poole are set to anchor the infield. Poole had quite the accomplishment when the true freshmen went to NCAA Division 1 baseball powerhouse Dallas Baptist University. Poole put in time at both 3rd and 1st last season in Edmonton. Meanwhile, Corl, who took his team-first mentality to Niagara University, played both 2nd base and shortstop. Fellow veteran Jack Wheatley will join them in the infield. Wheatley is slated to be the everyday shortstop this season.
"We’re thrilled to have these players back. It has the makings of a great infield. We have flexibility where we deploy them and we know wherever they are their gloves will be great," says Head Coach Jake Lanferman.The rotation on the mound are anchored by gems coming back to River City for the second straight season. K.J. Ward impressed fans last year with his heat and control and has been throwing strongly in the deep south. He’ll be joined by Chas Wheatley, Jack’s cousin, who’s been tossing the rock around 93-94 mph at the University of Iowa, and Shaun Atamanchuk, who has impressed observers down at Park University Gilbert in Arizona. Brad Kobitowich, Corl’s teammate at Niagara, will be back in the fold as will Riley Barrett and Brendan Loeppky. In addition, Halen Knoll, who saw some duty with the Riverhawks early last season, will suit up with the Hawks after playing at the University of Mary in North Dakota.
“A valuable lesson we learned last year is you can never have too many arms,” adds Lanferman. “You want to limit your position players as you want to ensure everyone is getting adequate reps. But on the bump you need lots of pitchers. You never know when you might lose one and it’s a short, intense schedule in the West Coast League.”
Those pitchers will see a lot of a veteran who will lead the people behind the plate. Mark Ossanna will be back signalling the hurlers once he completes his tour of duty with Minot State in Chandler, Arizona.
The Hawks also have the good fortune to have Will Gardner patrolling the outfield once again. The rangy six footer from St. Albert is currently playing with Mount Mary University in Milwaukee.
It's encouraging to see some other signings of players who graduated from the Riverhawks Collegiate program. Pitchers Lincoln Butt and Heath Hachkowski and outfielder Carson Friesen all saw some action with the big team last season and there will be even more action for them this coming summer.
The returning 15 players along with the new recruits have Coach Lanferman feeling optimistic about the upcoming season.
“Returning players understand the standards and values that we uphold in the clubhouse and on the field, making it easier for them to lead the way for newcomers joining the program for the first time. They represent our program extremely well. Having their veteran presence will allow us to have an excellent opportunity to make the playoffs and play competitive baseball that is entertaining for the fans. These guys are professional in how they act and complete their daily routines. I’m excited to have them back and get to work with them for another summer.”
Returning Riverhawks 2023
Atamanchuk, Shaun (RHP)
Barrett, Riley (RHP)
Butt, Lincoln (RHP)
Corl, Kelly (SS/2B)
Friesen, Carson (OF)
Gardner, Will (OF)
Hachkowski, Heath (RHP)
Knoll, Halen (RHP)
Kobitowich, Brady (RHP)
Loeppky, Brendan (RHP)
Ossanna, Mark ©
Poole, Tom (1B/3B)
Ward, KJ (RHP/1B)
Wheatley, Chas (RHP)
Wheatley, Jack (SS/2B)