Behind in the count

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Early under 500 record doesn’t deter baseball team’s optimism

By Gabrielle Fitzgerald

Matt Ham practices with a teammate tossing a medicine ball to build up strength for future games. Photo by Andrew Shepherd
Matt Ham practices with a teammate tossing a medicine ball to build up strength for future games. Photo by Andrew Shepherd

The college’s baseball season may not have started out the best, but head coach Kent Shelley predicts victory in the future.

The Cavaliers are 3-4, starting the season with three consecutive losses to Bossier Parish Community College in Louisiana.

“Prior to going to Bossier City, we had only been outside twice on our new field,” Shelley said. “We had not seen live pitching until this series and that was very evident, and we had a very difficult time scoring runs.”

Shelley said he was proud of the team’s pitching over their last seven games. In a game against DuPage Community College, Matt Blackham and Nick Kolarik combined to pitch a no-hitter.

“We made great strides from the first series to the second,” Shelley said.

The new field dries quickly, but with the recent snowfall the team has been forced to cancel games and move practices inside. According to Shelley, what the ball club needs most is to play and gain experience, especially with the constant change in roster.

“As we do every year, we lose key players,” Shelley said. “You only have them for two years and every year you’re recruiting a new team, so it’s nothing that we haven’t experienced or dealt with in the past and we’ll continue to deal with in the future. We just have to have some players step up, and have some sophomores have some big years for us.”

Juan Bauers, first base, had a rocky season start with an injury during the Bossier Parish series. Darius Hampton, shortstop, also hasn’t started out as well as he hoped to. However, both have high expectations for the season, provided the team can find the confidence to believe in success.

“Coach has been talking to us about confidence,” Bauers said. “Just knowing that when we get in there we can do it, instead of just hoping to get it done.”

Hampton pinpointed an issue plaguing the team.

“We haven’t been outside that much to see live pitching, but that should come around so we really just need to work on our hitting,” Hampton said.

The team had great offense the past season, so Shelley expects the offense to improve over the season.

“The kids have kept a fantastic attitude. Their work ethic remains very strong, so we have high hopes,” said Shelley.  “Last year we started the season 0-4; we finished with 40 wins and a Jayhawk Conference championship so nobody’s panicking… I have all the faith in the world in them that we will get it turned around offensively and I know that we’re going to be a very strong defensive club. We remain optimistic that we will continue to progress and continue to improve, and we will be ready when the Jayhawk Conference kicks off.”

Contact Gabrielle Fitzgerald, features editor, at gfitzge1@jccc.edu.

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