By Joe Hanretty
Thirteen. There have been 13 games played since the University of Dallas men’s baseball team has experienced victory. Approximately one month ago, Coach Joe Myers and his team beat Schreiner University by a score of 5-3. Since then, the team has struggled mightily. As of Sunday afternoon, the team has a meager record of 6-25. During this long losing streak, the team has allowed three or more runs in all but one game, in which they lost 1-0. They are batting .229 as a team. Their pitching staff sits at a 6.78 ERA. Meanwhile, opposing teams bat .329, a full 100 points higher than UD’s own offense. This all seems depressing and negative, and while the information I just put forth definitely is, the philosophy in the locker room does not match the gloomy outlook presented by the stats.
Junior pitcher Brian Donley spoke about the positive outlook the players are trying to maintain as they close out the season.
“We’ve been working through some struggles but we definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, “Everyone’s better today than they were at the beginning of the season or even last week, to be honest. Tino [junior infielder Rene Vargas] was playing extremely well before he injured both of his knees in a collision. The trainer told us he would return in time for the last series of the year, which is a bit of a silver lining for us.”
Vargas has provided a consistent presence at shortstop ever since he came in as a freshman. His speed, simple approach at the plate and strong arm in the field are some of his strongest assets. It is understandable that the team is in flux without such a key component. However, does it speak to a different issue, that of depth? Senior Luciano Villanueva is also a strong player for UD, and he does consistently contribute similar strengths to the team. But, in the end, he can only play one position at one time.
When I spoke to Myers shortly after the spring semester commenced, he told me that he and his staff would be recalibrating the recruitment process and putting more effort into finding and bolstering a team with depth. This indicates that this lack of depth is a key component to the team’s disastrous season thus far. Perhaps in the future the team will rebound and come back to be a force in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, but as of now, it is simply trying to end the season with a positive outlook.
Donley continued on in some detail about the team, and he presented a more optimistic view of the situation than the stats would lead one to believe.
“[senior infielder] Hunter Berry is playing extremely well now that he has started ball games on a more frequent basis. He’s doing an even better job leading, despite the struggles,” he said. “[senior infielder] Patch Healy is playing out of his mind as a freshman, and Luciano is complementing Hunter by doing a great job setting the tone every day whether it has been practice or games.”
The contrast between the stats and the players’ mentality is interesting, and shows an attitude of resilience. So, perhaps the team can just scratch this season off as a fluke and leave it as a good learning experience. It is truly unfortunate for seniors like Nolan Kipp, Villanueva, Berry and Martin Cronin, but they seem to be accepting it as it is.
“I can only shake my head sometimes,” Kipp said. “It’s no one person in particular or anything; it’s just been a crazy bad season. It happens, I guess. Just have to move on.”
Hopefully the team can muster together a few wins for the seniors in these next few weeks of play.