By Harrison Sillings / Staff Reporter
Last season was a historic one for the Lakers baseball squad here at Roosevelt. They finished with an overall record of 28-24 but impressed in conference play, going 19-11 while earning themselves the programs first ever bid to the CCAC Tournament.
They rode that momentum all the way to the conference championship game where they lost in a 12 inning heartbreaker to Judson University. Now with a large group of returners, this year’s team looks to build of last year’s success and establish themselves as perennial contenders in the CCAC.
“I believe the way we build off last year is to have that loss to Judson motivate us to win the conference,” said sophomore infielder/pitcher Matt Donahue. “We have great leadership and returning talent, and Coach Marchi brought in a lot great young talent to help us achieve this goal. Last season was a benchmark for where this program wants to be.”
With 11 freshman added to this years roster, the team is deeper and more competitive than years past, making them hungrier than ever to get back on the diamond.
The Lakers had some scheduling issues early on this spring. With poor weather continuing to plague the Midwest, they had to cancel nine weekend matchups. They were finally able to get back on the field the first weekend in March for two games against Concordia University. Despite having strong pitching performances early on in both outings, the Lakers dropped both games to Concordia by scores of 1-4 and 1-11.
“We struggled in our first games, but we are building off those losses to better ourselves,” said Donahue. “The slow start won’t define our year.”
Fellow Sophomore Jake Hutchinson (catcher/outfield) echoed Donahue’s comments. “Despite a shaky start, this program is headed in the right direction.”
With a slew of games scheduled over spring break, including two series against top ten opponents, the Lakers have great chances to prove themselves.
“The biggest thing is keeping our chemistry up,” said Hutchinson. “As cliche as it might sound, we’re a group of brothers, and we play like it. We all have each other’s backs out there, and as long as that chemistry stays, we’ll be successful.”
Junior Jordan Coakley (first base/catcher) added, “We need to have good pitching and play defense well because those two things are going to win us championships.”
Good chemistry and pitching are important, but the key reason this team has the chance to be successful is that they all share the same goal. When talking to all three, each had only one thing on their minds, and that was a CCAC championship.
“My expectations are nothing less than a conference championship and a national bid,” Hutchinson said. “We have talent up and down our lineup and an amazing coaching staff to get us there. There is no limit to what we can do. I truly believe that.”
Donahue and Coakley both shared the same expectations “That’s why we play the game, to win championships. We have the talent all throughout the roster to play great baseball. We all want to hang a banner in the rafters of Goodman,” Donahue said.
“I expect us to excel in conference and win a championship.” added Coakley.
This team is one group of 30 guys who are all hungry to win a conference championship. Using last year’s devastating loss as motivation, this year’s team is more than ready to go all the way. Laker fans can catch the team at home for the first time this season on March 13 against Trinity International.