After a slow start last season, SVSU is ready to put in the work needed to make it to the NCAA tournament.
“We’ve had a really good recruiting season, our pitchers have gotten better and our pitching depth is the best we’ve had in a while,” head coach Walt Head said. “I don’t know if we’ll win a championship, but we really need to get into the playoffs because we’re good enough to do that.”
Head coach Walt Head is back for his 30th season, and he’s ready to utilize the depth of talent on his team to have a successful year.
SVSU is returning all but one of its starters this season, and it has added other talented players to the team.
“This year’s probably going to be our best one in a long time, and probably even for years to come, because of our offense, our pitchers and the great core of guys we’re returning,” said junior pitcher Carson Beauchaine.
Last season, Beauchaine pitched 61 innings, struck out 48 batters and kept opponents to a .238 batting average. All three were team best and led to him being selected as the starting pitcher for the All-GLIAC First team.
Junior outfielder Kyle O’Boyle, senior shortstop Matt Hunt and senior outfielder Ryan Ermers also received All-GLIAC Honors.
With a 25-24 record last season, 18-15 in the conference, the team was ranked tenth in the region by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) in the preseason poll.
“It’s good that you can start in the region being ranked at all,” Head said.
This ranking will put the team in the position to move up as long as it starts winning right away.
“I thought we really jelled well last season, and we carried that on to training in the off season and in the fall,” Hunt said. “I think that we all understand what we need to do personally and that it’s going to be a good year for us.”
SVSU’s season will begin March 3 in Auburndale, Fla. While in Florida, the team will play 11 games. These games will give a good indication on the team’s chances for making it into the NCAA tournament.
“We want to do better in Florida than we have been doing because the last few years, we made the tournament, but we didn’t play very well down South,” Head said. “To get ranked in the nation and to get into the NCAA tournament, you need to win some games down there.”
“We’re playing some pretty good competition, a little better this year than it has been, but our pitching staff’s just as good as ever so we’re looking to win a lot more than usual,” Beauchaine said.
In order to pull out some wins down South, Coach Head and the rest of the pitching staff have begun planning their lineups.
Among the strong lineup, three pitchers Coach Head will utilize in Florida, along with the rest of the season, are Beauchaine, junior Mike Saunders and sophomore Mike Schaaf.
“It’s the first time we have three kids that can throw 90 miles per hour,” Head said. “We haven’t had that in the 30 years that I’ve been here.”
When it comes down to it, the team will have to work together in order to have a successful season.
“It’s all about having your teammates back and playing as a team,” Hunt said. “We’re a family out there, and we need to work as one to achieve our goals.”
After returning from Florida, the team will have some time to prepare for its first home double header at 1 p.m. Friday, March 24, against Hillsdale College.