The Evansville Otters are looking to come out strong for the 2022 Frontier League Championship season after narrowly missing out on the playoffs in 2021.
The Otters will play their final preseason exhibition game at 10 a.m. May 10 before kicking off the regular season at 6:35 p.m. May 13. The team will face the New Jersey Jackals in the first of a nine-game homestand to begin the season.
The team is coming off a historic season in which it finished with a 57-39 record, tied for the franchise’s all-time best single-season win total, and added to its stretch of 50 or more wins in seven of the past eight seasons.
Two Otters — infielder J.R. Davis and relief pitcher Logan Sawyer — were named postseason all-stars in 2021, and field manager Andy McCauley was named the Frontier League’s Roger Hanners Manager of the Year for the second time as an Otter. Earlier in the season, McCauley became the franchise’s all-time leader in regular season wins at 531 and surpassed 1,000 professional managerial wins in his career.
Despite the record 2021 season, the team would still fall a half-game shy of a postseason berth to the Florence Y’alls of central Kentucky in the Frontier League West Division, missing out on the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
Sixteen players from 2021 are returning to this season’s Spring Training roster, including seven position players and nine pitchers. Returning outfielder Elijah MacNamee, who had a strong season at the plate with a .292 average and 45 RBIs, says last season’s disappointment is behind them, and the team is ready to win its first Frontier League Championship since 2016.
“It leaves a salty taste in our mouths knowing that we didn’t get into the playoffs and what we deserved, but we’re on a mission this year, and we’re definitely going to go take it,” he says.
Catcher Dakota Phillips says he’s excited to get back onto the field after what felt like the longest offseason of his career. Last season, Phillips hit a .256 batting average with 38 runs, 16 doubles, 12 home runs, and 45 RBIs in 72 games played.
“We’re coming off a historic season here in Evansville and having that chemistry in the locker room is awesome,” he says. “Everybody is going to pick each other up and just bring these new guys in and mold them into that locker room. I think we’ll have a really great year.”
“Everybody starts this year 0-0. At the end of the day, we just want to be 1-0,” he adds. “We’re trying to take everything day by day right now, and we can’t hang our hat on what we did last year.”
The Otters will play their final game of the 2022 season on Sept. 4. Single and season tickets are for sale on the team’s website, by calling 812-435-8686, or by visiting the Evansville Otters Box Office at Bosse Field on Don Mattingly Way from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Photos provided by Preston Leinenbach.