The 2016 district champions are back for another season at “The Heap” as the first practice baseball for the 2017 season is set for Jan. 23. There certainly will be some changes in the 2017 lineup as eight seniors have graduated from last year’s squad. The Wolves are not only implementing roster changes, but also several changes involving equipment and field conditions.
The Wolves are also planning to rock some new uniforms in the 2017 season. Two new jerseys will be worn by this year’s varsity squad. The first is a radiant blue and yellow Under Armour jersey to be used for away games. The other uniform is a throwback white Under Armour jersey with blue pinstripes that match with some throwback pinstripe pants. This will be primarily used as the Wolves’ home uniform.
The Wolves were hard at work far before the first practice of the year as several “work days” have prepared Heap Field for the 2017 season, along with some new looks. One of the more notable changes can be found behind home plate. Before this season, a protective net stretched from the top of the stands to a five-foot brick wall behind home plate. Also, a steel fence protected fans from foul balls along the third and first base lines. After putting in some work over the past few months, the fences along the first and third base lines were demolished, and a brand new net now stretches from the top of the stands directly down to the ground.
“The old net had been through some wear and tear,” Head Baseball Coach Mick Nunez said, “but the new net looks really nice. We took down the fence simply because it will offer the fans a better view of the game.”
The other field renovation is something small hanging on the center field wall that brings great pride to the St. Paul’s baseball organization. Until this year, the Wolves only retired one player’s number on the center field wall, and that is ‘97 graduate Andy Cannizaro, jersey number 2. Cannizaro played in the Yankees organization, and has since coached with LSU and Mississippi State. Finally, a second alumnus jersey number has been retired: number 16 Ryan Schimpf, ‘06 graduate. Schimpf was pulled up from Triple-A ball to the big leagues in the San Diego Padres organization in August. Now, two large plastic baseballs honoring Cannizaro and Schimpf gloriously rest in center field for all fans to see.
“It’s a great sense of pride for (Schimpf) and the school,” Assistant Baseball Coach Ryan Spencer said. “This is where his foundation of skills was laid, and his number being placed on the wall is a tribute to him and the school for all the hard work they put in for each other.”
The Wolves will look to dominate District 6-5A once again in the coming 2017 season. Their first home game is against powerhouse Brother Martin, who defeated the Wolves in round one of the playoffs last year. This first home game, set for March 7, would be a great opportunity to see the 2017 Wolves in action and, of course, take a look at the new uniforms and changes to historic Heap Field.