Just like other students, members of the Wilkes Colonels baseball team returned to campus last week after spring break. However, they spent their time in Florida, not partying, but hard at work on the baseball field.
The Colonels spent the week in Fort Pierce, Fla., for the second year in a row. The team compiled a (6-3) record while facing Westminster College, Kenyon College, Penn State Behrend, La Roche College, Geneva College, Widener University and Hilbert College twice.
The trip was filled with several high points for the Colonels. Senior pitcher Marcus Leaf showed that he is ready to start the season hot with his performance against Geneva College. Leaf gave up four hits, one run and 10 strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings.
In this game, the offense stepped up to match Leaf’s strong performance on the mound. With this formula, the Colonels stopped a three game losing streak; they would not lose again in Florida., adding the next three games to the win column. Leaf enjoyed the opportunity to be in Florida again this spring break.
“It was great to be down in Florida with the warm weather, great baseball, and hanging out with my closest buddies,” Leaf said.
Nate Ramsey enters the 2016 season as his first year a head coach. Ramsey spent last season as an assistant coach with the team and looks to build upon the (18-20) record that last year’s team accomplished.
However, the Colonels were left out of the playoffs, ending up on the wrong side of a tiebreaker. Coach Ramsey believes that taking the team to Florida can present its challenges and distractions.
“I think distractions present themselves on every road trip in some way, shape or form. Baseball is an uncommon game, and Florida is an uncommon trip for many teams, so naturally, there can be distractions everywhere,” Ramsey explains. “For us, that was seven or eight guys’ first time on a plane. Acting professional, and treating the trip as business is the key to having a good trip down there.”
This year’s Florida trip was very different than last year’s trip: The schedule was a much more difficult than last season, but the Colonels were up for it.
According to Leaf, “Last year we won two out of nine games to mediocre teams. This year we had a difficult schedule and played some of the best baseball, our pitching dominated teams and our bats supported us throughout the trip. Nothing beats winning close baseball games.”
The Colonels have a roster that is loaded with depth in all positions. Coach Ramsey is not only impressed with the depth that the team has but he is also impressed with the team’s “passion.” Having 13 upperclassmen on any roster generally means that you have a team that is loaded with experience and can teach the freshman and sophomores the ropes for when it is their turn to lead the team.
Leaf is impressed with the pitching of the team, and with the bats finding their stride, they have a great formula for success.
“Our pitching this year is unbelievable: we have four starters that dominate for five or six innings and then have a bullpen that has been lights out all around, our pitching staff is confident that any team we face will be shut down,” Leaf explained. “The hitting started slow, but came around as we got further into the games in Florida. Our goal is to get better and better each week: If we continue dominating on the mound and in the box, the MAC title is ours without a doubt.”
2016 is going to be the year that will see the Wilkes baseball team accomplish several things: They are poised to make their name known when the team enters conference play. They hope that their record will be better than last year’s so they can secure a spot in the playoffs and not have to worry about being on the right side of a tiebreaker.