By MIKEY BARNES
The saying “last year is a thing of the past” can be felt by all those affiliated with the University of Mary Washington baseball program. After a phenomenal 11-2 start to their 2014 campaign, the wheels fell off for the team and then-second year Head Coach Wayne Riser. Riser and his team went on to lose 17 of their last 21 games, finishing the season at a disappointing 15-19.
Due to the poor performance of the team and a lack in chemistry, a number of the members left the program. This year’s core of players includes six transfer students and five freshmen. Of the 27 members of the team, 11 are new to the program and the school in its entirety. With the six current transfers, four previously competed at the Division I level, bringing a load of experience to a very youthful team. Alongside the five freshmen that joined the program this season, there are ten sophomores, making the majority of the team underclassmen.
Due to the team’s great deal of youth, it is asked of the more experienced members of the program to be leaders. Senior Jono Haught is an example on the field for the younger ballplayers to look up to. Haught is the starting catcher for the Eagles and has been throughout his career at UMW. In his sophomore year, Haught was named All-CAC Performer of the Year for his work at the catcher position.
This year, Haught is already off to a great start, and has been named CAC hitter of the week for his performance in the team’s doubleheader wins against Plattsburgh State University of New York.
Junior James Sink is considered as a catalyst for his work on and off the field. The outfielder is known for his mark on the base paths, as the speedy outfielder recorded a team high 19 steals while only being caught once. Sink demonstrated his quickness in the team’s opening games with a steal in each.
Sink’s leadership and experience has shown him the significance of teamwork. With the team’s poor performance last year, Sink said he feels very strong about the core of teammates he has been handed this season accompanying the great returning group.
“As a veteran, I have been here since our new coach has come. I have seen the progress and evolution of our team in all three years,” said Sink. “I could not be more excited about the new transfers to our team and what role they are going to play. All of them have fit in so well and are playing intricate roles in our lineup right away. Coming from high level schools such as Virginia Tech, Old Dominion University, NSU, they bring a different perspective and high level attitude to our team.”
Sink said he has strong hopes for this year’s team and believes these additions are exactly what the program has been missing.
“I believe we have put in the necessary work and preparation to surprise a lot of people this season. We have high hopes as a team, and are ready to put it into place now that the season is finally here,” said Sink about his feelings towards the potential success of this team.
Sink, Haught and their fellow UMW baseball teammates have been in a constant struggle early in the season with the weather. The abundance of snow caused numerous games to be rescheduled for later dates, as the team wait on a playing surface with proper field conditions. The Eagle’s baseball program is looking forward to this season and the approaching warmer weather.
As of now, UMW baseball is off to a 2-0 start and is looking to continue their success. With all hands on deck, the Eagles will be attempting to win their first conference title since 2010.