Practices began as soon as winter break was over for both baseball and lacrosse teams. With the first games of the season this weekend for both teams, the players have been focusing on the goals of the season in front of them. Conditioning new and returning players has been key in this preparation, as well as focusing on game-like atmospheres to gear up for the season’s start.
Practicing on field for the baseball team has been essential in acclimating new players to the feel of college ball.
“We have been doing inter-squad scrimmages for some of the practices go get everyone in game like situations,” says Tyler Grouten ’13.
These types of practices are useful to the team, as it is a young team.
“Almost half the team has never played in a college game before and many of the returners will be getting their first shot at earning a full-time starting role,” says Joseph Peery ’12.
Putting everything from practices together in games is also a focus of the team this season. Being strong in offense and defense simultaneously in games is something Grouten, ’13, said the team struggled with last year. The team plays about 40 games during the season and fatigue can cripple a player’s momentum.
Using the chemistry and depth of the team is helpful in overcoming these challenges.
“We all get along and will push each other to get better every day,” Grouten â€˜13 said. Focusing on each inning to win the game instead of the overall goal to get to conference is what the players need to focus on he says.Â
“I think if we don’t get lazy halfway through the season and keep sight of the goals we set, then we will have a successful season. We have a very young and athletic team and more talent than we have had before so I am looking forward to this year more than the previous three,” Peery â€˜12 said.
The conference championship is also a goal for the men’s lacrosse team. Suffering heavy losses due to graduated seniors, the lacrosse team has shifted much of its focus onto younger players who may not have gotten a lot of playing time in the past and step into the positions that need to be filled. Intensive focus on stick work and running drills early on assist the team in preparing for the early games and getting in shape for the season.
“Typically our team strengths are our conditioning and the toughness that we play with to win,” said Kyle Smith ’13.
The intensity of the team brings the players closer together so they can work cohesively towards the yearly goal of the NCAA tournament. This year they are defending their ODAC Championship win against in-conference rivals such as Lynchburg, Hampden-Sydney, and Washington and Lee. Salisbury, although not in-conference, is also a challenging team the Maroons will face this season.
Competition within the team to stay seated in their positions encourages the players to always bring their best game.
“Our coaches do a great job focusing on each position individually and finding the guys that will give the team the most success. Since I have been here, we haven’t lost one regular season ODAC game,” said Jeff Keating ’12.
This will be difficult to continue, he says, since this team is the team their opponents circle on their calendars. However, their strengths in their attack and defense give them a leg up in this goal.
“These guys have a lot of points and experience,” Smith ’13 said, pointing out another strength of the team. One thing the team will be focusing on this season is strengthening their face-offs and conditioning the younger players to college lacrosse. Both Keating and Smith assert this season will be another great season for the team.
The first game of the season is this Saturday, Feb. 4 at VMI. The first home game of the season is Saturday, Feb. 11.