After two cancelled games against John Carroll University, the Allegheny baseball team begins its 2016 season on Saturday, March 5. This year’s team will be led by head coach, Kelly Swiney, ’99, who is entering his seventh season at the helm for the Gators with the goal of leading the Gators to their first NCAC championship since Swiney’s team did so in 1999. The Gators will have to do so with a young team that consists of just two seniors, infielder Joe Killian and relief pitcher Hayden Smith.
Swiney and players are working toward the same goal of a conference title and know that they must work as a team to achieve that.
“We have a team motto of FIO [Figure It Out]. There are so many situations in baseball where you have to think on your feet and act in a way that will produce the best result. This all comes down to mentally being where your feet are—not taking the last at bat into the field, or thinking about the last pitch when it is time to throw the next pitch. Being mentally tough is something we preach on our squad,” said Corey Keenan, ‘17.
The 2016 captains for the Gators will be Killian, infielder/outfielder Rob DiMaggio, ’17, infielder Jacob Shick, ’17, and pitcher, Keenan.
“I can relate to the younger guys more and be the energizer of the group,” DiMaggio said.
Despite the young roster, the captains believe this is one of the best teams they have seen in their time as part of Allegheny College baseball.
“Expectations are very high this season,” Killian said. “I think we have the most talented team we have had since I have been here”.
The Gators were scheduled to take the field on Feb. 20 against John Carroll University in Beckley, West Virginia, but the series was rescheduled because of poor weather conditions. The weather plays a role in the ability the team has to get practice time outside in order to prepare for the season.
“The environment definitely plays a role in what we can do and can’t do in the months leading up to the season. But we have many options for almost every environment. When it’s snowing or raining we are inside the Wise Center, where we can use all four courts to simulate a lot of game situations. If it’s not raining or snowing, but the field is in unplayable conditions, we can get on the turf in the stadium and compete in intrasquad scrimmages and situational plays,” said Keenan.
The Gators are scheduled to take the field on Friday, March 5 at 11 a.m. for their first season series against St. Mary’s College in Maryland.