Tonight the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks return to the shark tank at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School for their season opener against North Shore. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the first pitch is thrown at 7 p.m.

It is also Youth Baseball Night at the ballpark and all Little League players who show up in uniform are admitted free.

Players took the field on Monday night for a light practice leading up to the season opener.

Sharks' pitcher warms up at practice in preparation for opening day. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“The kids looked good on Monday,” said head coach Frank Leoni. “We swung the bat really well and all pitchers threw live and looked good on the mound. We are excited to get started Thursday and are expecting our team to come out and play really well against North Shore.”

This is Coach Leoni’s first season at the helm of the Sharks, but he is no rookie baseball coach. Coach Leoni has 23 years of collegiate coaching experience at his alma mater, the University of Rhode Island, along with William and Mary, and, most recently, Marymount University in Arlington, Va.

“One of the reasons why the Sharks approached me is because I have connections with various college programs including Division I, Division II and Division III programs. So we have players from all walks of college baseball.”

The Sharks compete in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League of New England, a wooden bat league that develops and prepares college athletes for professional baseball careers. The Sharks players will also live with host families on the Island during the summer season. There is also a Shark Tank retail store this year on Water street in Vineyard Haven.

Coach Leoni said he is optimistic about the season.

“Someone very knowledgeable on the topic said we have one of the strongest teams in the league on paper,” he said.