Upon the approach of baseball season, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association released their National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Preseason Poll, in which Trinity was dubbed the No. 4 team in the nation. This ranking is identical to the national ranking the team finished with in the 2018 season, prior to their loss during the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) tournament after consecutive defeats against Texas Lutheran University and Centenary College.
Junior and catcher Michael Goodrich explained that the team’s results from the last season has greatly influenced their outlook on the upcoming season.
“It was tough losing during conference last year, and it definitely emphasized to us how important the conference tournament is. It’s tough to leave everything up to double elimination rounds at the end of the year, especially when it determines if we are going to the postseason or not,” Goodrich said. “This year, we will be focusing on trying to play our best ball during conference, with the mentality that every game has the weight of a chance at the postseason.”
Just two years prior to their loss in the 2018 conference tournament, the Trinity team earned the NCAA Division III baseball championship. Pitching coach David Smith recognizes that although the accolade was a significant historical moment for Trinity baseball, he hopes the accomplishment will be used as a stepping stone for success in future seasons, rather than just a milestone of the team’s history.
“For us as coaches, it’s already many years ago. Players have changed, and even the freshmen from the 2016 team are completely different players today. I hope all it does is give our players the confidence to know it can be done. Our ultimate goal for this team is to play really good baseball. We want them to be loose, have fun and compete like crazy. If we do that, special things can happen because of the talent we have in our program,” Smith said.
Goodrich explained that the team’s preparation for this season will be focused on starting the season strong, despite the early game schedule.
“We’ve been preparing with the usual practice that we have at the beginning of every spring. We have less time until our first game than we usually do, which means the practices will be a little more intense so that we’re ready to go. We are also making a concerted effort to lift during the season this year, so we’ll be lifting about four times a week,” Goodrich said.
In the upcoming regular season, the Trinity team has 40 games scheduled over 11 weeks. Smith explained that while this may seem strenuous, the timing is not unusual.
“Forty games is usually our standard, so I would not call it a heavy workload. In terms of composition, we have maybe the best schedule we’ve ever had here at Trinity. It’s great in the fact that we don’t play a ton of double-headers. It’s also great because we play a bunch of really good teams,” Smith said. “Overall, it will be most challenging because of the high-level competition we’re facing and managing the timing of the schedule will not be anything too daunting. Having as many home games as we do will allow for proper rest periods and very little missed class time.”
Goodrich agreed that the schedule, which features 33 home games, is easier to manage than in previous seasons.
“I think the schedule will be easier for us to handle this year than in previous seasons because we’ll have more than 30 home games, which might be more than I had in my first two years combined. We’ll be playing some really tough teams, but being able to compete at home should make the game workload better,” Goodrich said.
Although the program has undergone changes from the last season to the upcoming one, Goodrich believes the team is brimming with potential.
“A few things have changed, most notably with the the class of 2018 graduating. There is a new group of leaders this year, as well as some new first-years. Our main focus this year is to really play as a team, which will be important in helping us accomplish the goals we have set. Our roster this year will have a great group of guys, and that should help a lot with the main focus of playing for each other rather than for ourselves,” Goodrich said.
Upon the graduation of last year’s seniors, the team welcomes a new group of incoming first-years.
“The new first-years are a lot of fun. They’re really easy going, and they fit into the team well. They’re some funny guys for sure, and there’s never really a dull moment with them,” Goodrich said.
Amongst the new players on this year’s roster is MJ Metz, a first-year infielder from San Diego, California.
“I had a family friend attending Trinity, and she’d told me great things about the school. When I was looking into colleges, I realized that Trinity had everything I was looking for both academically and athletically. While I was on my visit, everything clicked, and I decided that Trinity was the right fit for me,” Metz said.
Although it’s only his first season, Metz is clearly focused on helping the team accomplish their goals.
“As a team, we’re very focused on winning another national championship. Personally, I want to contribute to the team in any way I can and hopefully win games and have fun along the way,” Metz said.
The Tiger baseball team will host their first home game of the season at the Trinity University Baseball Field at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9. The team will face Cortland College in a three-game series, with two games on Saturday and one game on Sunday.