VICTORIA, B.C. – The Victoria HarbourCats are thrilled to announce that Head Coach Graig Merritt will be returning to his position for the 2016 West Coast League season.
With three games to play in the 2015 season, the Merritt-led HarbourCats have set franchise records for wins (27), winning streak (9), and are guaranteed the franchise’s first over-.500 season. At 27-23, the team is sitting in fifth place overall (second in West Division) and remains mathematically alive for the wild card playoff spot, the last berth. The HarbourCats are the last team still battling to get in, as seven other teams are out going to the last weekend of the regular season. The HarbourCats will end with a road series in Bellingham, games Friday-Saturday-Sunday at Joe Martin Field.
“Our ownership group has been impressed with so much of what we’ve seen in 2015, and the development of the players who have been here,” said Ken Swanson, team President. “We saw progression even when the team was 8-16, because so many games were one- and two-run games. To have the team be the hottest club in the WCL in the second half, at 19-7, and to make a serious run at a playoff spot, was not a surprise to us because we could see the work being put in, and the energy. We met with Graig two weeks ago and it was an easy, unanimous choice for all involved to see what a year under our belts would do for this program.”
Merritt, who sets the coaching staff under the guidance of General Manager Jim Swanson, is expected to bring back assistant coaches Alec Adame, Jerry Pena and Joe Meggs. The assistants may get other opportunities that change that plan, but all have been valuable parts of the significant improvements the HarbourCats franchise has shown in 2015.
“Having Graig back, and having Alec, Jerry and Joe back, was a priority for us, and that’s why we wanted to get this done now and announce it early,” said Jim Swanson. “There’s been an energy and a teaching level that brought improvements team-wise and individually.
“We get into a crucial recruiting time right away and it’s important to not delay in working with the great programs who have entrusted us with players. We have a pro-style environment with training, medical, media and fan support, and almost all our players want to come back. That’s partly due to the coaching staff helping them get better, but it’s got a lot to do with the organizational structure on the whole. We can use our resources better, with myself, Graig and the coaches all being active in the recruiting process this fall and better reacting to changes closer to the season.
“This was the first year in the WCL for Graig and the coaches, and they learned a lot quickly. We are all eager to get going already on building the team for 2016. There’s more knowledge of the league now with our coaches, and any past distractions are behind us. When you lead a league in attendance two years in a row, you feel you owe it to the fans to do everything you can to build a championship club. We are all passionate about the HarbourCats and putting a winning team on the field. We saw how fans here responded to a team in the thick of a playoff chase – it was a lot of fun.”
Other organizational announcements around front office structure moving forward are due this month, as the HarbourCats look for the right combination to continue to be successful on and off the field.
SEASON TICKETS FOR 2016
2016 season ticket commitments are now being taken by the team, with pricing at 2015 levels (no taxes, no service fees) for a limited time. A premium seat is $350, while general admission season tickets are $250.
Ticket pricing will be adjusted for 2016, including higher prices for walkup/single tickets in the Main Grandstand (Section 10). A new prime seating area, to be announced, is being worked on by the team and the City of Victoria.
Look for an announcement after the season on how fans with leftover tickets from 2015 can use them to get discounts on 2016 ticket packages. Special “new corporate season ticket holder” pricing is available as well until the end of September.
BURGER, BEER, BATTING PRACTICE
We are offering our inaugural Burger, Beer, Batting Practice event. For $39, participants get to take swings, shag fly balls, socialize, and have a great day at Sports Traders Diamond.
Sunday, August 9, 5pm at Sports Traders Diamond
Sign up at the office, 101-1814 Vancouver Street, or call in at 778-265-0327.