After spending its spring break in Florida, the Cardinals are optimistic about their season.
“We played a tough schedule,” said head coach Walt Head. “Some schools went down and played soft schedules, and come back 8-2 or 9-10.
“We didn’t do nearly as well, but we lost all those difficult ballgames.”
After playing 11 games marked with strong pitching and weak hitting, the Cards returned from Florida with a 3-8 record.
“We seemed a little unfocused, and we came off really slow,” senior outfielder Kyle O’Boyle said. “We did see some bright spots at the end, and it’s a positive that we lost close games and didn’t get blown out of the water.”
One bright spot was the pitching lineup. With 15 players prepared to pitch, the Cards will have plenty of depth from the mound this season.
“Starting pitching did well and a select few in our batting order did really well,” said junior catcher Chet LaFave.
While a select few in the batting order did well, the majority of the batters struggled at the plate.
“I don’t know what it was, and I can’t put my finger on it,” Head said. “The younger kids did alright, but the people we really depend on, the older kids, were kind of up and down, up and down.”
Regardless of the hitters’ performance, the tough pitching faced in Florida will help to prepare the team for strong pitchers on many GLIAC teams.
“We saw a ton of good pitching, so that’s going to help us out since it’s going to carry over into our conference,” O’Boyle said.
The Cards ended their time in Florida by winning two of their last three matchups, and the team plans to take this momentum and carry it over into its season.
“A lot of players took their Florida trip as spring training, so they’re going to build off it as the GLIAC (play) starts,” said LaFave. “Hopefully they put their pieces together and once the whole team comes together and we start playing really well, there’s no telling how good we can be from here on out.”
Since the team has returned from Florida, they have won four games in a row, all against Hillsdale last weekend. They have continued to work on improving in specific ways to prepare for the season.
“This week we’ve really been focusing on moving runners since we kind of struggled in the first half of Florida in scoring runs,” said LaFave. “We’ve really been working on hit and runs, advancing runners, and then when we do have a great opportunity to score a lot of runs, really getting focused, making a good swing and getting some runs in.”
The pitchers are preparing by throwing every day, staying healthy and conditioning.
“We’re throwing bullpen, spot locations, running, making sure we’re staying healthy, conditioning, and preparing ourselves to be ready to pitch when our number is called,” senior left-handed pitcher Andrew Doyle said.
The Cards started conference play this past weekend when they faced Hillsdale University on Saturday and Sunday.
Going into this matchup, Coach Head knew this was a team that the Cards should beat.
“We went down there last year and started the game in 28 degree weather,” said Head. “We ended up winning those two games, but we lost the first two on Saturday.”
The team won its first two games on Saturday by scores of 5-0 and 4-3 Saturday and followed those wins up with two more, 6-5 and 3-2 on Sunday afternoon.
“To do well this year we need to beat who we want to beat,” Head said.
The Cards will return to action Saturday, March 31 when they host Findlay. The first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.