April 11, 2017
By Christopher Sich
The Dominican University men’s baseball team began their season competing in the Gene Cusic Classic in Fort Myers, FL, playing great baseball. The Stars played eight games finishing above .500 with a record of 5-3.
According to junior Nate Natividad, no Dominican team in history has gone over .500 on this trip which was very encouraging. The Stars, though, have struggled since returning home losing six consecutive games.
“We had a very successful Florida trip, but we have not been able to find that success back home,” Head Coach Steve Hardman said. “In Florida, we were playing complete baseball games; we were hitting, pitching, and fielding at a high level. Since coming back north, we have really been struggling with our hitting, more specifically with our situational hitting and scoring runs.”
The recent slide has been disappointing for the Stars, but their hopes are still high and know they have what it takes to turn it around.
“We know we are better than what our record shows, with that being said we are not hitting the panic button yet,” Natividad said. “There is plenty of time to make up that ground; we just need to take it one pitch, one play and one game at a time.”
The Stars defense and pitching has been good and consistent. According to senior Royce Salay, up until this point the Stars great defensive play and good pitching has been keeping them in all of the ball games thus far.
“Our defense is a strength of our team because it is always solid; we also have a lot of players that play multiple positions which is great for the team,” Salay said.
The Stars also have experience on their side with eight seniors on the team and 13 total upperclassmen.
“The upperclassmen on the team are leaders and set examples for the underclassmen,” Salay said. “As an upperclassman I see my role as a leader and making sure the quality of work is being done at practice as well as during games and making sure the focus is there.”
The Stars not only have players experienced in conference games, but also players with experience in the conference tournament. They also are relatively young and are starting three freshman and two sophomores. With a balanced team and strong defensive play, the team knows they have what it takes to turn things around, but currently lack the necessary confidence and toughness.
“We have to be tougher, we have to make the decision that losing is not an option for us,” Hardman said. “Right now, I really feel that much of our failure is lack of confidence and lack of toughness.”
Along with toughness, the Stars know they must start clicking offensively at the plate. According to Salay and Natividad, the team knows they can be a dangerous team when all the pieces come together; they just have to trust themselves so they can ultimately achieve the team goals.
Hardman said: “Our goal from day one is to make the conference tournament. Getting into the conference tournament puts you in a position to be able to win the conference tournament and get to a regional. That is our goal. We had a tough first weekend in conference play and we put ourselves in a position to where we need to sweep a lot of series. We still have a chance to accomplish our goal, and when we do, we will probably be the hottest team in the conference that no one will want to play in the tournament.”
After a jam packed weekend of conference games with doubleheaders against Concordia University Wisconsin and Wisconsin Lutheran College, the Stars will be back in action on Wednesday, April 12, against University of Chicago.