In less than two weeks, the Emerson College baseball team will begin its 2013 season with a trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to play seven games against different schools from Pennsylvania.
Players said they are looking forward to heading down south, but they are just glad to start playing baseball again. Sophomore Julian Rifkind said he is happy to play with the team’s twelve new players.
“I think we're all really excited,” said Rifkind. “We’ve got a lot of young talent building off last year ... and we also have a lot of good talent returning from last year.”
David Hanley, the head coach of the baseball team, is excited to start also, but thinks that the team is focused right now on getting to experience some warmer weather.
“Everyone's pretty excited to get out of here,” said Hanley. “We're leaving in 12 days and the weather [in South Carolina] is like 70 degrees right now.”
This year's roster features 24 players. Of those players, half are either freshmen or transfer students. The departure of last year's 11-man senior class has left the coach with more questions than answers.
“We have a 24-man roster, 12 of them are brand new kids this year,” said Hanley. “It's gonna be a young team. I think we're going to be all right, but until you get out on the field and see how they perform, you just don't know.”
According to freshman Steven Cameron, the lack of experience on the team is not going to be an issue.
“We all went to pretty good programs so I think we'll be fine,” Cameron said.
The Lions only managed to hit four home runs last season as a team. Rifkind said there is no one player who is a home run powerhouse, but that the team will make up for the loss elsewhere.
“We don't have anybody who is going to put up at least four bombs themselves,” said Rifkind. “We have a lot of guys that have gap power though.”
But what they lack in size, Cameron said the Lions make up for by paying attention to detail.
“We mostly have fundamental hitters that get on base and run the bases well,” said Cameron. “That will be our strong suit. Stealing bases and just working runs in.”
Emerson finished with a 12-26 record last year and its 6-10 record in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference put them in sixth place of the nine teams..
But Hanley defended last year’s record, and said that the team was much better than what was on paper.
“[Our record is] a deceiving statistic because we lost 12 games by one or two runs,” said Hanley. “We easily, easily, could have been a 20-win team. No question.”
Rifkind said the team will be able to improve on its record with the new talent that they have.
“Even though we lost 12 kids last year and five or six starters, a bunch of pitchers, I think we will be a lot better than last year,” said Rifkind. “We have a different attitude. Last year there were a lot of people who were trying to motivate others, but this year I think we have a lot of self-motivated people.”
Kelner said that the team’s goal should be to surpass the school’s all-time wins record of 15 games.
“I think possibly being even more important than .500 is setting the school record in wins,” said Kelner. “I think it's very attainable. We could win 16 games, which would most likely put us over .500. I think we will achieve that goal. We have the talent.”
The Lions play their first game in Myrtle Beach on March 3 and their first GNAC game is on March 23 against Mt. Aloysius College.