Pat PaytonSports EditorAfter winning the provincial ‘A' title last summer, Eric McLeod admits that he and fellow coach Don ‘Mud' Grasby have a rebuilding job with their Stratford Midget baseball team.They have just four returnees from that 2008 squad."We've lost 12 of 16 players, so we have a really young team," said McLeod, who has coached at the Midget level (16 to 18 years old) for the past five years. "It's definitely a rebuilding year for us."We only have four or five older kids, and most of the rest are first-year Midgets."McLeod says the coaches hope to see improvement as the summer progresses."We'll be young and inexperienced, and we'll have to work our way through that against teams that will be quite a bit older," he said."We'll have to work on the fundamentals and try and make the easy outs. We hope by the end of the year that we'll be competitive."McLeod and Grasby have two pitchers back from last year's championship team, but they're quick to point out that the mound staff won't be as strong as last season."We have a couple of kids who pitched last year, but they were new last year and we worked them in when we could," McLeod said. "Now, we just hope they step up and rise to a higher level."And hopefully, they'll throw strikes. As long as you throw strikes, you have a chance. When you start walking people, that's when you run into trouble."McLeod and Grasby will be counting on returnee Nick Graver and Matt Berger to do the bulk of the pitching. And they hope players such as shortstop Brandon Pletsch and rookie catcher Mitchell McIntosh will supply some punch with the bat.The coaches plan on carrying 14 players this season.Stratford plays in the Intercounty Midget Tier II League, along with two Guelph teams, Paris, Waterloo, Ancaster, Woodstock, Brantford, Hamilton and Dundas.Home games are at National Stadium on Monday evenings, starting at 7:30 p.m.Notes:• Eric McLeod has coached baseball in the city for the past 15 years.• The Stratford Midgets are sponsored by Hishon's Custom Embroidery.• The Midgets' home opener is this Saturday, May 9 at National Stadium against Waterloo. The first pitch is slated for 6 p.m.It's part of ‘Stratford Indians Day,' sponsored by Stratford minor baseball. Eight travelling baseball teams in the city are taking part. Waterloo teams are providing the opposition in seven of the eight games. A Kitchener team will be the other visiting club."It's something that the (minor baseball) executive has come up with this year," McLeod noted.Games - from Senior Rookie to Midget - are being held on diamonds at Dufferin Park and SERC, and also at National Stadium.