MARION, IL-- For the first time in franchise history, the Southern Illinois Miners have control of the Frontier League Cup. Now, their main goal is to repeat as the league champions, but they'll have to do it with a roster full of fresh faces. Going into the season, the Miners only have ten players out of 34 returning from last season's championship team.
"It's a real different feeling coming into this year," said infielder Jason Ganek. "Last year we had a lot of old returning guys, and I'm one of I think ten returning guys this year, and I'm still pretty young. So you kind of get thrown into that leadership role."
One of the new faces to the clubhouse this year is Hayden Simpson, a former first round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs.
"We were actually talking with Mike Pinto earlier, and he said that we have to realize that we're not the team that won the championship," Simpson stated. "But everybody this year wants to win, and he assured us that we're here to win."
Pinto went on to say that although this team will look new to the fans, the winning product on the field won't change.
"I believe in that process," he said. "We'll follow it again with different leadership, different clubhouse chemistry, new players believing in the process. We'll get in the playoffs, and once you get in, anything can happen."
The Miners open their season on May 17th at Rent One Park, they'll have a ceremony celebrating their 2012 championship, on the 18th.