NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - The Aussie Peppers will take over Caswell Park next month as Minnesota's only professional softball team.
Sports Director Rob Clark has more from the squad ahead of opening day.
“We’re really excited to get going. June ninth is something we’ve looked forward to since January. We’re hoping for a good crowd that follows up the state tournament. We’re going to try and keep softball strong here in Mankato for about a week,” said Matt Mangulis, Aussie Peppers General Manager.
The Peppers take on Beijing in their first contest at home in 2019.
“That’s a pretty big matchup between the Peppers and Beijing, and kind of a preview of a big match–up coming up later in the summer,” Mangulis said.
“It’s a story that isn’t widely known. Australia and Beijing will be playing up here. Only one of those teams can qualify for the Olympics. It’s really big for those two teams, but we’re seeing a preview of an Olympic qualifier in Mankato, so it’s big news,” added Mangulis.
“It’s really exciting, we never anticipated in the last few years if you asked us if we’d have a global name, probably not. But 37 years of history started by Jerry Maschka, I’m really excited to be apart of it and expand it nationally, and globally. There’s going to be a lot of great softball, a lot of great players coming in. We’re bringing in some role models for our players. We’ve got Coley Ries back, she’s been a Pepper since she was a little girl. She’s in Australia training right now with the team. It’s special for that. For our girls to look at somebody and say okay I can be that one day. For us, that’s what is most important is providing more role models, and growing the sport."
“This is world class. The big NCAA Regionals are going on. We’ve got some players still involved in that. This is the top of softball, we’re seeing the best come right here to Mankato. We’re looking to try to build softball, we want to build a fan base here. We’ve got the pro tournaments, but fans should come out and watch the youth too. We’ve got 160 teams coming in for one week. They’re coming from all over the place to play softball. We’ve made Mankato an attraction for softball from youth to professional."
The Peppers opening day is June ninth. We’ll have more from the team leading up to the day right here on KEYC News 12.