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Cavaliers squad set and soon team will be ready to 'play ball'

The weather of late has been topsy turvy to say the least, but there are definitely warmer days ahead and that means it will soon be time for the Eau Claire Cavaliers to play ball at Carson Park.

First pitch on the team’s 53rd season is set for May 5 at 12:30 p.m. at Carson Park when they take on the Osseo Merchants. But in the less than two weeks before the start of the 2024 campaign, there’s much to do for the team and its coaches as they prepare for play in the Chippewa River Baseball League (CRBL).

“The team was solidified a couple of weeks ago, my roster is complete,” Cavaliers’ field manager Ryan Bembnister told the Leader-Telegram, adding that the squad currently has 23 players on its roster. “We’re allowed 25 guys on our roster, so I have left two spots open for people who I have already contacted.”

“There are a couple of kids who might not be back until later in May,” the field manager said, explaining that some of the players are still with their college teams and won’t be available until their collegiate seasons are over.

With practices set to start in the next several days, Bembnister looks forward to his second full season as field manager for the team and admits that the roster situation at the start of the year can be a little daunting, but he’s not too worried about it, either, noting that “every team has the same issue.”

With 28 games set on the regular season calendar, the field manager noted that “it’s a smart move to play non-conference games” in addition to CRBL contests as “we have good relations with those teams and they like coming here (to Carson Park).” And, the Cavaliers like playing these time-honored squads on their schedule, too.

As for this year’s incarnation of the Cavaliers, it obviously remains to be seen, but Bembnister did note there are a few things he perceives as strengths to his squad even before they take to the diamond for the first time this season.

“There are ten or 11 or 12 of our guys who have been here for a couple of years,” he said, noting that the experience those players have is definitely an asset to this year’s team. Another strength for the Cavaliers should be its pitching.

“The depth of our pitching is a strength, as we have a solid four in the rotation,” Bembnister mentioned, noting that last season there were two strong starters and two or three exceptional closers.

This season, he feels 12 of his players could either start, play in relief or finish a game. “That’s really a nice luxury to have,” Bembnister noted.

The field manager did note, though, that there’s one area where the team will need some work on as “ we are a little young” in the middle infield. ”It will just take a little time to click, I’m not too worried,” Bembnister said.

The field manager is looking forward to this team coming together and then getting on the field to actually play.

“Baseball season is my favorite time of the year,” Bembnister said.

“I never get sick of talking (about) baseball. I love coaching these guys.”

Admission to all Cavaliers games is $5 for adults and $1 for those 17 and under. Children under five are admitted to games for free, as are veterans, who receive a free lifetime season pass. Adult season tickets can be purchased for $50 and seniors (60 and over) season tickets are available for $35. A six pack of tickets can be purchased at the discount rate of $20. Tickets can be purchased at every home game or by calling 715-563-5298. For more information and the team’s complete season schedule, go to the team’s website, www.eauclairecavaliers.org.

Of note on the season schedule, is the CRBL annual All-Star Game, set for July 7 at 12:30 p.m. at Jim Falls Sturgeons Field.

Coming in a future print edition of the Leader-Telegram will be a look back at the team’s history and the volunteers behind its success.