High hopes for a baseball comeback

Joe Hanretty, Contributing Writer

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Photo by Elizabeth Kerin.

About five months ago, I wrote about the woes and pitfalls that had befallen the University of Dallas baseball team in the spring of 2015. I return again to the subject of the baseball team to preview what we all hope will be a season of improvement on all fronts.

Just to recap: the 2014-2015 UD baseball team managed just 10 wins overall and four against conference foes. There is no need to mention the other statistics, but players and coaches alike felt that the team was simply not playing up to par.

But, with a new roster and a new season ahead, could this not be a better year?

“Our pitching looks like it has improved, based on practice, but obviously we have work to do,” said senior pitcher Brian Donley.

For those who did not know, the team lost some players from last season due to graduation. Donley spoke about that as well;

“Losing [Class of 2015 graduate Trevor] Keele sucks but no one’s really concerned about how to pick up in power,” he said.

Donley noted that it was not so much Keele’s power at the plate, but rather his consistency which will be missed most.

“With Keele, it wasn’t so much his power but his ability to always put together a quality at-bat and never be an easy out,” Donley said. “Obviously he had power, but replacing the home runs is less important than replacing the 15 quality at-bats he’d have a series.”

Head coach, Joe Myers, is looking forward to working with this year's batch of recruits. Photo by Elizabeth kern.
Head coach, Joe Myers, is looking forward to working with this year’s batch of recruits. Photo by Elizabeth Kerin.

Donley and many others on the team have placed much of their trust in the plan of the coaching staff.

“With our coaches, there is not much to worry about,” Donley said. “They’re going to get everyone on the roster to the point where they can consistently have quality at-bats.”

This new mentality may be a better way to approach things for the baseball team in the upcoming season – simply seeing more pitches, focusing on reaching base consistently and capitalizing on mistakes will help to produce more wins in the long run.

The interim baseball head coach, Joe Myers, also lent his thoughts on the pitching situation:

“Pitching will still be the area of focus,” Myers said. “Our junior class of pitchers is going to be the key for success on the mound. Getting them to develop and pitch with confidence is something that we will need. The starting rotation is up in the air. Ryan Hammonds will be the ace of the staff, so he will carry a big work load.”

Offensively, the team will look to a large freshman class to replace some of the power that may be missing from the departure of players like Keele.

“Replacing Trevor Keele is very hard to do with [just] one guy,” Myers commented. “But we feel the freshman class is deep and has talent. Collectively, we should be a better offense than last year behind [senior Luciano] Villanueva who will key the middle of the order. We have four left-handed hitters in the lineup … so that is a huge upgrade.”

Myers is entering his second season at the helm of the baseball team, and looks to make noticeable improvements from last year’s disappointment. Myers was optimistic about the fact that this was his first year coaching a team with the players he recruited.

“[The] second year has been good so far,” said Myers. “[There is] still a lot to do. This is our first year as a staff that we have the guys we want on the team, so getting them to adjust to different things we are asking them to do is the challenge we face.”

Right now, the team is knee-deep in “fall ball,” with practices almost every day including workouts. This is when teams start forming chemistry while the coaches get to evaluate what they really have in their tool shed. This weekend they will be able to put their strategies to the test when they host North Lake College on Saturday. The doubleheader will start at noon, with junior Ryan Hammonds being the anticipated starting pitcher.

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