Voice of Wenatchee AppleSox Joel Norman Ready for ’23 Season
After a winter in Nebraska calling games for the Lincoln Stars of the USHL and following the fortunes of the Seattle Kraken, Joel Norman, the voice of Wenatchee AppleSox baseball is ready for summer and his fifth season calling games for the upcoming baseball season in Wenatchee.
The AppleSox open their '23 campaign Friday night with a weekend series in Bend, Ore with the Elks and return for the home opener on Tuesday, June 6th vs. the Springfield Drifters at Paul Thomas Sr. Field on the campus of Wenatchee Valley College.
Tuesday's game is Townsquare Media Night. The staff of all Townsquare Media radio stations will be collecting non-perishable food items donated by fans to the Salvation Army in exchange for a free general admission ticket to the game.
The gates open at 5:30pm and first pitch is set for 6:35pm.
Norman is ready for the season to open "we're just so excited for what this summer has in store. We had a great team last year. I think anyone who came out and got a chance to meet, talk to our head coach Mitch Darlington, you got such a great idea of his passion not just for the Apple socks, but for the Wenatchee Valley and surrounding communities. Really the ideal guy to be leading a team like this and we're so excited what he can do in year two"
Norman reminds fans the 2022 Wenatchee AppleSox had the best record in their division in the second half of the season, earning a playoff berth and nearly advanced to the to the WCL championship game. "So we'll see what he can do this year a lot of returning players".
Norman says Head coach Mitch Darlington has talked about his goals this season including winning the first half of the season. Norman attributed the second half improvement to the team jelling and coming together after posting a respectable 12-15 won loss record to open the 2022 season "and simply put, they really came together in the second half after those first two or three weeks of a season. So many times these teams are feeling each other out. And a lot of these players are going to meet each other for the first time when you're flying in from Arizona, Texas, Ohio, wherever you might be coming from."
Wenatchee returns a total of 10 players from last season. The early roster will be in flux as some players are still finishing up class or their school is involved in postseason tournament play before they can join Wenatchee's active roster.
Norman thinks AppleSox fans will be excited to welcome back players like Brandon Potts who played 20 games for Wenatchee in 2022. "He's currently at Washington State right now played 20 games for us last year and led the team in home runs.
Left hander Quincy Vassar from Brewster, WA via Vangard College in California who returns for a 3rd season in Wenatchee.
Jake Putnam who is still playing for Santa Clara in the NCAA Tournament, will return as the AppleSox closer.
NWAC East Region MVP Garret Gores from Spokane Falls and now at Gonzaga who Norman says was an unsung contributor to the '22 Appleox roster but is likely to fill a greater role this season
This year, the AppleSox home games will be scheduled at 6:35pm for games on Monday through Saturday. Two games have a special 7:05pm first pitch on June 10th and July 3rd when the AppleSox will present fireworks displays after the game.
Sunday games are scheduled for 1:05pm starts for a second year. "And the idea with those was to make it kind of family friendly. You want to have an earlier games so maybe you can bring like kids out and have lots of opportunities to have fun as a family at the ballpark. Kids can they run the bases on the field after the game. Adults will get AppleSox baseball cards when they enter the ballpark. And new this season after the games, we're gonna have live music after every Sunday home game" Norman says featuring local artists.
The AppleSox are offering special pricing $2 off Tuesday, that includes $2 off tickets and select concessions and food items. "Winatchee Wednesdays" will feature prize giveaways for fans from game sponsors and Thirsty Thursdays will offer fans a discount on adult beverages.
Major League Baseball has implemented some changes including a pitch clock. The WCL is also trying to speed up the game. "We've got a couple of changes coming this year we have what we're calling an action clock "Norman explains. "It's also used by the NCAA and the intention of it is to speed up the pitches in between because too often there's too many gaps where guys will step out they readjust the gloves a pitcher shakes off too many times. So we're trying to speed some of that up and I think it's gonna be a success." His research showed the average time of game for the Apple Sox in 2022 was two hours and 55 minutes. "The reason why the West Coast League adopted this is because we're following NCAA guidelines if we're pulling guys from the NCAA we need to be following what they do to send guys back to better than they were when they came to us in the summer. So the action clock is 20 seconds. The batter has to be in the box with 10 seconds remaining to be ready to go for the pitch and the pitcher has to deliver the pitch before the clock expires."
However, Norman says the WCL is not eliminating the infield shift, expanding the size of bases or putting a runner on second base to start extra inning games as the Major Leagues has implemented recently.
For more information on Wenatchee AppleSox baseball, visit the team website