By Spencer Hirsch |Staff Writer|
Coyote baseball is looking to put last year’s disappointments behind them as they embark on a new season.
Their 20-18 record was not quite good enough, as they missed out on the conference playoff tournament by just a few winning percentage points.
“It’s always very disappointing when you do not make the playoffs, because once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen,” said head coach Don Parnell.
Junior center fielder Ethan Chapman feels they should have had a much stronger finish to the season.
“We didn’t live up to our expectations. We had a lot of talent, just didn’t put it together,” said Chapman.
Parnell has high goals and one big expectation set for his team this year.
“Our goal is to get into the conference playoff tournament and get into the West Region playoff tournament. We expect to win the conference,” said Parnell.
In order to ensure they get into both of these playoff tournaments, the Coyotes have their work cut out for them.
Only four of the 11 conference teams make the conference playoff tournament, while only four of the 36 West Region teams get into the regional playoff tournament.
Losing to less superior conference opponents last season was something that senior first baseman Brandon Day feels must change if the team wants to make a run for the playoffs.
“As a team, we have to beat the teams we are supposed to,” said Day.
Winning the conference has its advantages.
It guarantees the Coyotes a spot in the West Region playoffs, rather than having their fate determined by the NCAA West Region Selection Committee.
Parnell feels that staying focused on the daily tasks at hand and worrying only about the things he and his team can control in the moment are two of the key factors to having a successful season and deep playoff run.
In the eyes of his players, teamwork and accountability are the keys to success.
“We just got to play as a team. Everything looks good so far. As long as everyone does their job, we should be successful,” said senior pitcher Cory Caruso.
“We just need to do our jobs and do what we are supposed to do individually, and we will come together as a team,” said Chapman.
He hopes to do his part by consistently getting on base and stealing bases.
Last season, he led the team with 16 stolen bases in 19 attempts.
If all of the pieces of the puzzle come together, Chapman is confident his team can go far this year.
“As a team, I think we can win a national championship. We have a talented team who can do damage. We just need to focus on the present and take things a day at a time,” said Chapman.
When asked to gauge this year’s team, Parnell stated that he has a strong group of position players, and should be solid again this season in pitching.
Senior right fielder Edwin Mendoza, senior catcher Paul Eshleman, and junior second baseman Curtis Cassise are three transfer students who hope to crack the starting lineup and help the team make a deep playoff run.
The three of them are all about winning, and are excited to be on a team that they feel can go far in the playoffs.
Eshleman, who played for the University of Oregon his first three years, stated, “The three years I was at Oregon we only made the playoffs one year. It would be great to experience getting deep in the playoffs.”
The journey begins on Thursday, Feb. 2 when the Coyotes take the field at home against Azusa Pacific University at 2 p.m.