By Graham Lucas
The Battling Bishops baseball team is predicted to finish third amongst conference competition by North Coast Athletic Conference coaches in a poll released last week.
Head Baseball Coach Tyler Mott said the team goals are to “win the NCAC, and make some noise in the Regional Tournament.”
Since the team’s first two games against were cancelled, their season will begin against Capital University March 6.
Only five seniors will return this year. Senior James Toland, who earned first team All-NCAC honors last year and led the team in home runs, said being a senior brings great responsibility.
“My duties as a senior are to be a leader,” Toland said. “Take the freshman under my wing, guide them, teach them and show them how things are done the right way. I just have to lead by example.”
Another senior, pitcher Brandon Sega, who led the team with five wins last season, will lead a strong pitching rotation.
Sophomore Charles Cooper led the NCAC last season in earned runs average. The lefty’s 1.86 ERA also earned him a NCAC Newcomer of the Year award.
“I worked as hard as I possibly could in the off-season to try to earn playing time,” Cooper said. “My work ethic got me into the starting rotation and from there I just trusted my pitches to strike people out and they did.”
The Bishops do not have any regular season games against number-one preseason favorite Wooster.
They do, however, have two games against DePauw, the number two preseason favorite, which will largely affect NCAC tournament implications later this spring.
Toland said he hopes they meet Wooster in the NCAC tournament.
“To dethrone Wooster this season it is going to take a team effort,” Toland said. “Hard work each day, each game and each practice. If we never take a rep off and do everything we can to play together, we’ll peak as a team at the right time. That’s when we’ll be most dangerous.”
The chemistry Coach Mott, Assistant Coach Fody Frentsos and Athletic Director Roger Ingles share also affects the team’s success. Mott, who played for then Head Coach Ingles, said their relationship does not only impact the team.
“I was extremely fortunate to have such good college coaches during my time as a player at OWU,” Mott said. “I am even more fortunate because I still get to work with all of them every day as a coach. Coach Ingles has made such a positive impact on me. He has helped me to better myself both as a player, and now as a coach.”
According to Sega, the teams’ off-season efforts will translate into more wins.
“This off-season we worked on really just being consistent, whether it be hitters having good approaches every drill and at bat, to pitchers working on keeping their delivery the same on every pitch,” Sega said. “As a team we worked on just making sure we did all the little things right, so when it comes time to play we are a well-oiled machine.”
The baseball team’s efforts could decide whether the NCAC’s All-Sports Trophy will return to OWU since the 2008-2009 seasons.