By MIKEY BARNES
The University of Mary Washington baseball team kicks their season off this Sunday with a double header against University of Maine at Presque Isle at the V. Earl Dickinson Stadium. UMW is led by fourth-year head coach Wayne Riser. Riser and the Eagles baseball program is coming off their winningest season is his tenure here and best season the program has had since 2010 when they were third place in the South Regional of the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles finished 27-7 and fell just short of a NCAA Tournament berth in 2015.
Riser came to Mary Washington in 2013 following a 22-year stint at Shepherd University, where he won 512 games and ranks as the all-time winningest coach in the program’s history. In 2008, Riser was inducted into the Shepherd athletic hall-of-fame. While at Shepherd, Riser advanced to five NCAA Tournament berths and received the conference coach of the year award four times. Riser also played at Shepherd University after transferring over from Henderson University after two years. Riser has compiled a 64-44 record at UMW and looks to improve on that starting Sunday.
Q. What are your feelings going into this season?
A. We are very encouraged with the work we have put forth and excited to get the
Q. What are your feelings after last season? (You all had the best record our program has had in years).
A. Hopefully the competitive culture is evolving and the success of 2015 can become
Q. What do you think led to last year’s success? What do you think needs to happen to duplicate that success?
A. Last years success was realized by culture transformation and our players season under way. our standard, that is what we are working toward. performing on a daily basis up to their capabilities. Our players made a tremendous investment in the program mentally and physically and I was proud to see our guys experience the fruits of the labor.
Q. Ryan Van Assche was recently named a preseason All-American, as his coach, how do you feel about that?
A. RV came here and bought into what we do here and performed at a high level. We are excited to see him compete for us again this season. Glad he is on our side!
Q.Your team graduated some big time seniors, notably Jono Haught, what does your team need to do to fill the void that those players are leaving?
A.Through maturation, continued hard work and focus, the betterment of the whole group will fill the void. One individual could not replace Jono, his leadership, work ethic, skill acquisition and performance were exceptional.
Q. How has your transition to UMW from Shepherd, a DII program? Have you noticed any differences in how you have approached things or how was the transition in its entirety?
A. Baseball is baseball, geography doesn’t influence success. The biggest adjustment has been learning and assessing the internal culture here at UMW. That process is ongoing and progressing.
Q. You are ranked just outside of the top 25, currently at 29th. How does that impact your approach to the season? How do you feel as the coach of a team preseason ranked just out of the top 25, even after losing your star player?
A.The preseason polls are great for our parents and fans. Internally we don’t focus on it that much. The important thing is to be in the polls at the end of the year when the work is complete. That is our focus.
Q. What role do you think this year’s freshman will have? Do you plan to rely on them heavy, or is that to be determined as the season goes along?
A. Every player’s role will develop along with and how the season develops.
Q. Did you, yourself play collegiate baseball? If so, where? Do you feel as though it has led to your success as a coach?
A. Henderson State University- AR and Shepherd University- WV; The biggest influence in my coaching career has been from DR. Clyde Berry who was my coach atHSU. He is why I wanted to become a Collegiate baseball coach.