With some new faces leading the way, Dartmouth Moosehead Dry is up to its same old tricks in the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League.
Despite the devastating losses of four-time league MVP Joel Irvine and perennial all-star pitchers Jason Bailey and Steve Nelson, Dartmouth — winners of seven of the past nine titles — is back in the NSSBL final against the Kentville Wildcats this weekend.
A number of fresh faces stepped into bigger roles, while outfielder Chris Head led a strong core of returning veterans with the best season of his seven-year career en route to his second MVP award.
“We’re a little different, a little younger,” Head said. “We lost the best player who ever played in the league (Irvine) and two of the best pitchers, so we’re a little younger, but we’re hungry to win. We lost in Game 7 (to Halifax) last year and we’re looking to get back on top and represent Nova Scotia at nationals.”
Pitcher Shain Boudreau, catcher Justin Stephens and outfielder Matt Thomas all cracked the all-star team with tremendous seasons, as did veteran slugger Darren Doucette.
Head, a 26-year-old from New Wateford, was the best of the bunch, leading the league in six categories, including a scorching .435 batting average, 50 hits and 32 stolen bases.
“I would have to say it’s my best season,” Head said. “I started to increase my power numbers. That’s been my main focus over the past couple of years. I’m not going to be fast forever, so I’ve got to learn how to hit, I guess.”
The best-of-seven series opens with Games 1 and 2 Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Kentville and Saturday at 7 p.m. at Beazley Field.
Kentville, in search of its first title since 2000, won the regular-season pennant with a 21-7 record, two games better than Dartmouth. The Wildcats won the season series 5-2.
“They don’t make many errors, they’re all tough outs, one through nine, and they have pitchers who throw strikes,” Head said. “They match up well to us and it’s going to be a good series.”