Baseball team seeks to overcome loss of key graduates, look to incoming freshmen to build continuity
The defending National Champions have returned to the dirt field and batting cages in an effort to prepare for another successful season. After arriving on campus early from winter break, these players have worked for weeks to get ready for their upcoming games, and are hoping to defend their title at the end of May.
Last season, the Tigers made it all the way to the final round of the NCAA Division III championship. Playing in a best out of three series, they swept Keystone College by winning the first two games. Several former standout players such as Jeremy Wolf, Nick Jewett and Carter McEachern are now playing professionally. Despite the loss of these three and other key seniors, this team does not plan on relinquishing the title.
“It was definitely difficult losing all of the guys last year,” senior pitcher Al Higgins said. “Without their leadership, the championship run would have been more difficult. With that being said, our team this year is as strong as it was last year. The seniors last year passed down their wisdom to all of us and we now know how to win, which is half the battle.”
The current team roster consists of returning players with promising potential and new players who are eager to play for a winning team.
“We have a really tight-knit group of guys this year. Our pitching staff may be as talented and deep as it has been since I came to Trinity. We have a strong group of seniors who have made it a point to teach the younger guys what it’s like to play winning baseball. I also believe that our defensive play is going to be a real strength this year. The infield doesn’t make errors and the outfield has tons of speed and range,” Higgins said.
Although it may excite some players to play for a successful team, the new season will include challenges and situations last year’s team never encountered, creating a different experience for all players of the current team.
“It’s going to require a number of young guys to step up and put together a solid team, but we have to know that we aren’t going to be able to play with the same identity as last year’s team,” junior pitcher Blake Frampton said.
Head Coach Tim Scannell has returned for another season. This past season, Scannell’s leadership and success lead him to receive the Division III Coach of the year. Not only did he win the national title in last year’s tournament, he also gained his 600th career win.
The team has won four consecutive SCAC championships and could well be on the road to a fifth. Since Trinity University joined the SCAC conference in 1988, the baseball team has won 12 championship titles. After several weeks of sweating, practicing and creating their own team chemistry, they are ready to steal as many wins as they can.
“I’m looking forward to proving ourselves as National Champions and following up last year with a strong season in 2017,” senior pitcher Dylan McGee said. “All the teams we play against know that we are National Champions and we are going to have people coming after us. Our team knows we have to prove ourselves, and I think guys are preparing for the season with this in mind. We have been practicing hard every day and getting our minds in the right place to make a strong statement early in the season.”
The team will continue to practice on the field, in the batting cages and in the weight room to be the best they can be for the upcoming season. Their first game is scheduled to be on Feb. 10 in Jackson, Mississippi. Their first home game will be against Babson on Mar. 3.