Panthers Players and Manager Named League All-Stars
The Kitchener Panthers are proud to announce that four Panthers players were selected to the 2023 IBL All-Star Teams. Three players were named 1st Team All-Stars, one was named a 2nd Team All-Star and Manager Bill Matetich was named the IBL Manager of the year.
The one through four batters in the Panthers batting order were all selected as league All-Stars as Shortstop Raul Gonzalez, 1st Baseman Liam Wilson and Centerfielder Andy Leader were selected to the 1st All-Star Team while outfielder Blake Jacklin was selected to the 2nd All-Star Team. The quartet of All-Stars played a significant role in the Panthers high octane offence which led the league in home runs, OPS, total bases and Slugging percentage.
Raul Gonzalez, a major offseason addition for the Panthers, came as advertised as he provided great defence at Shortstop as well as a potent middle of the order bat. Gonzalez finished 3rd in the league with a .378 batting average, tied for 2nd in hits with 62, tied for 3rd in home runs with 13 and led the league in RBI with 54. He also finished 3rd in the league with a 1.138 OPS and 3rd in slugging with a .683 percentage. Raul very narrowly missed out on winning league MVP as he finished 2nd in voting.
After setting career highs in home runs and RBI in 2023, this is the third consecutive season Liam Wilson was selected to the 1st All-Star Team. The local slugger tied for third in the league in home runs with 13 and 6th in RBI with 45. His OPS of 1.124 ranked 4th in the league while his .684 slugging percentage placed him 2nd. Wilson provided top notch defence at 1st base once again as he completed his 2nd regular season and playoffs in a row with a perfect fielding percentage.
After 2nd Team All-Star selections in both 2021 and 2022, Andy Leader was named a 1st team All-Star after a career year in 2023. Leader once again dazzled with his outstanding defensive play in the outfield while while also setting a career high in home runs with 8 and batting average at .368 which ranked 4th in the league. He also set a career high in runs scored with 32 and slugging percentage at .608 which ranked 7th in the league. The homegrown Kitchener product has now appeared in 200 games for the Panthers across his 6 season career and has established himself as a perennial All-Star.
St. Jacobs native, Blake Jacklin, earned All-Star recognition for the second time in his three year career as he was selected as a 2nd Team All-Star. The young outfielder proved himself to be the most effective leadoff hitter in the IBL as he finished 6th in the league with a .361 batting average and led the league in runs scored with 46. He also finished in the top 10 in hits and walks as well as 4th in stolen bases with 19. Still of collegiate age, Jacklin is preparing for his Junior season at NCAA D1 Eastern Tennessee Sate University.
1st year Panthers Manager, Bill Matetich, was voted as the IBL Manager of the Year afte leading the Panthers to a 26-15 record and 2nd place finish in the regular season. Matetich was pivotal in orchestrating the Panthers’ 2023 resurgence after inheriting a team coming off of a disappointing 15-27 season in 2022. The structure and winning culture Matetich instilled helped the Panthers quickly pivot from a 6th place team in 2022 to a contender in 2023. He will look to build upon his 1st year success in Kitchener and help the Panthers contend for a championship in 2024.