NORTH ADAMS — There are a couple of familiar names on the roster of the 2016 North Adams SteepleCats, as pitchers Tanner Bird and Robby Buffis return to play at Joe Wolfe Field. There are also some familiar schools supplying general manager Jonah Bayliss players. Then again, there are some unfamiliar schools.
For every UMass-Lowell, Iona or University of Hartford player, the 2016 SteepleCats have players coming from Texas-Arlington, the University of San Diego and Bradley University.
"I'm happy with this lineup. I think [general manager Jonah Bayliss] has done a great job in recruiting," said SteepleCats president Dan Bosley.
The North Adams team will begin its NECBL season on Thursday, June 9, when the SteepleCats host New Bedford. North Adams, led for the second season by manager Mike Armstrong, will play a 44-game, regular-season schedule that ends on Aug. 1.
"We were really happy with him last year," Bosley said of Armstrong, whose day job is as an assistant baseball coach at Amherst College.
"We started last year with a new general manager in Jonah and a new coaching staff," said the president. "Last year, I said we wanted to re-boot the franchise.
"I think over the course of the year, we all learned a lot about each other. It became apparent that the team was coalescing around Mike."
While things can change between now and June, the SteepleCats roster includes players from 19 different colleges and 10 different states. Last year, the Cats had players from 23 different schools and 13 different states. Eight of the schools represented on this year's roster have more than one player representing the school.
Last year, however, only three schools had more than one player on the North Adams roster, and seven players came from New York state colleges.
Bayliss has established a bit of a relationship with the coaching staff at the University of California-San Diego. The Tritons have provided the SteepleCats with sophomore pitcher Kyle Mora and junior pitcher Jack Rupe.
The University of Texas-Arlington will be sending two players to North Adams in pitcher Logan Austin and infielder Noah Vaughan. Bradley University, not a school that has supplied a lot of players to the NECBL, is sending pitcher Ben Olson and outfielder Jean-Francois Garon to play for Armstrong this summer.
"Sometimes, you get hung up on going back to the same schools time and time again. You're comfortable with the program," said Bosley. "It gives us an opportunity to expand a little bit and to go to some different schools, and to see how those kids will respond.
"We're trying to build relationships with more and more people around the United States to get those kids in here."
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.