The Gator baseball team is preparing for its opening weekend of games.
“We are preparing how we prepare for every game,” Paul Vojtek, ’15, said. “We have been working hard at practice and we know what to do in each situation that could happen.”
The team has been practicing inside for four weeks, working on pitching and hitting as a unit.
“We used to have six weeks, but now we have four before our first game,” Kelly Swiney, head coach, said. “They had captains practices right after break and the pitchers have to be suddenly ready. The team starts throwing live against hitters right away and we can see who seperates themselves.”
Indoor practices bring challenges for the team in their preparation for game play.
“The ground balls take different paths indoor and it’s harder to play,” Chase Boyer, ’17, said. “Playing outside is more instinctual since we’ve all been playing for so long. We have to think about how we’re playing more indoor.”
Though indoor practices can be challenging for the team, the men are focusing on their goals and working to achieve them.
“Every year we want to win the NCAC championship and move on to the NCAA tournament,” Vojtek said. “Our other goals range from winning three or four games a weekend to winning the first of each day.”
The team is constantly thinking about becoming a championship team and hopes to be that team this year.
“We had a great run from 1985-2004 and were top in the nation,” Swiney said. “We want to get back to that and strive for that.”
Last year, the team closed the season with a 27-14-0 record overall.
“Last year our mental aspect was weak and we had no idea how address it,” Boyer said. “We are a better team than we showed. As a team we are focusing on mental toughness and translating that into games.”
As the team works to play together and cohesively, they are reflecting on what each year brings.
“When we graduate players and get a new freshman class it can be a challenge, but we have a good group looking to step up and take positions they may not have had in the past,” Vojtek said.
Boyer said it takes a few weeks together to understand how everyone plays but by the end of the season they play as a unit and act as a family.
“We have a forty man roster this year, which is the most we’ve had, but there are only ten in the lineup,” Swiney said. “They can contribute in other ways and they know to be ready to be the next man up. They understand they are one play away.”
The team was scheduled to travel to Beckley, West Virginia this weekend to compete against John Carroll University, but the weekend of games was cancelled due to weather. The team’s new opening weekend will be March 7 in New Market, Virginia.