University of Winnipeg president Dr. Lloyd Axworthy threw out the first pitch today at the Duckworth Centre, as the downtown campus announced it was adding baseball to its list of intercollegiate sports.
Judging from the gopher ball Axworthy delivered, it’ll be a frosty Friday in Death Valley before Wesmen coaches Guy Yerama and Mike Krykewich call him up in the bottom of the ninth to close the inning.
"We don’t get much chance to work out on the third floor of the Wesley Building," quipped Axworthy, who had previously offered his services if the team was ever in dire needs. "Now that the team is here, you might just see an old crock on the sidelines."
The university’s first two committed players are infielders Cody Hunter and Wes Pomeransky, both members of the 2010 Western Canadian junior champion Elmwood Giants and the national junior Team Manitoba that captured its first national title in 28 years.
Student-athletes in the Wesmen baseball program will begin classes and training in September, 2011, with its full slate of games beginning in the spring of 2012.
In its first full season of competition, the team will play 35 to 40 spring games against National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and National Junior Colleges Athletic Association (NJCAA) competition.
The goal is to have the program compete as a full member of the NAIA within a few years. The closest NAIA conference is the Dakota Athletic Conference, which features schools in North and South Dakota.
The team will play its home games at Shaw Park, also home of the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the American Association.