Despite having a low number of players compared to previous years, the boys baseball team hopes to start the spring season off strong.
“It would be nice to have some more guys come out,” said Head Coach David Roberts. “But the guys we do have coming back are talented, and we’re excited to see what the freshmen have to offer as well.”
In terms of talent, the team feels confident with several returning infield players, but will be looking to fill some vacant outfield positions left behind by last year’s graduating seniors. According to Roberts, this rearrangement will not only be the younger players’ opportunity to step up, but also a chance for returning players to demonstrate leadership. “[The seniors] are all leaders on the team … They’ve been around a long time, [and] they’ve had lots of experience at the varsity level,” said Roberts.
Colin Taylor ’16 agrees with the importance of having experience, but also stresses the potential challenges the team will face with a lack of returning pitchers. “I think [our greatest challenge this year] will be overcoming [the shortage of] pitching. [But] we have a good group of players, [and] we know defense and hitting will be strong,” Taylor said. “[In terms of] figuring out pitching, we have guys who can do it; it will just be [a matter of] adjusting and doing everything we can.”
Even with the uncertainty in regards to pitching, the team has high hopes and new goals for the season. Coach Roberts believes that the team has the ability to match last year’s record and considers a division title a realistic possibility. “My first inclination is that I don’t expect us to win fewer games, that’s for sure,” said Coach Roberts. “We got the ten wins last year—a nice rounded number, definitely a great achievement … I would anticipate that number being hit again, if not exceeded.”
Hayden Reyes ’16 and Taylor both hope to end their senior seasons with an advancement in the Mercer County or State Tournaments as well.
Taylor’s perspective on being a senior athlete this year centers around enjoying the moment while still keeping in mind that the season’s end is nearing. “It’s been a lot of fun … It’s always a good time going out there with the team and everything,” Taylor said. “[But] it’s good to go in knowing it’s the last year so that you can do the best you can.”
The question of whether or not there will be sufficient interest from the upcoming freshman class to fill the pitching spots remains. However, Coach Roberts can see both advantages and disadvantages to a smaller program. “From an overall numbers standpoint, a disadvantage is the lack of depth in all positions … [But] the good news is that while we are stuck inside with such small numbers, it’s easy to get a lot done quickly.”
Regardless of the current decline in player turnout, Roberts expects to see numbers back on the rise in the next couple of years. “I think you go through … cycles and waves. Maybe [players] lost interest as kids; maybe they had bad coaches … A lot of factors can play in.”
Whether or not this proves to be true, the team keeps its focus on the love of the game. “The guys that are coming back are dedicated to baseball, which always leads to success on the field,” Roberts said.