St. Joseph Mustangs held their annual Fan Fest at Hy-Vee on Thursday to kick off their 11th season.

Fans of all ages arrived at Hy-Vee to meet Mustangs players, try out for the National Anthem, receive free posters and enter to win prizes.

Season ticket holder Nancy Vanover said despite previous years, the team has a chance to make this year a championship season.

“I don’t like it when (the Mustangs) lose, I mean we all like to win but I mean, I cheer them on either way,” she said.

Vanover also keeps in contact with the team on social media and said she has a special connection with the team.

“I try do a lot of little things for the players. I bring them homemade brownies on the Fourth of July every year,” Vanover said. “They become like family for two months out of the year.”

Fans lined up near the Hy-Vee deli to have posters signed by the entire Mustangs roster. Infielder Drew Beazley said Fan Fest shows that the community truly cares about the players.

Left-handed pitcher Mahlyk Davis, who will make his first start today against the Clarinda A’s, said Fan Fest helps the team connect with the community.

“It’s a great experience and something we look forward to every year, coming out showing some love to our fans so they’ll come show us some love on the weekends,” Davis said.

Mustangs general manager Ky Turner said the team’s strong fan base comes from a myriad of people who contribute to the organization’s success.

“Baseball and softball are the backbone here in this community and you see it when you go to a Mustangs game,” Turner said.

The Mustangs finished last season with an overall record of 24-24 in the North Division and a 20-23 in the MINK League. They look to earn a winning streak today at 7 p.m. as they face the Clarinda A’s at Phil Welch Stadium.

Micaela Dea can be reached

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