Spring Sports Preview: Assumption baseball is back
The month of March does not always bring sunshine and warmth, but it does bring back collegiate baseball from a long off season. Assumption baseball has been preparing for months to compete for a spot in the postseason, after ending the 2017 season short of the opportunity. The team acquired four new coaches who have helped shape a winning baseball team, including the addition of new practice drills that has the team eager for a successful year.
Last season, the Hounds were 17-25 (.405) overall and were 10-17 (.305) in the NE-10 conference. Mike Rocco, who has been the head coach of the Hounds for his now-fifth sea- son, believes that the younger players gaining experience from last year will be a key to this season’s success. “We had numerous ups and downs throughout the season, so hopefully [the younger players] can take those experiences and learn from them to help our team accomplish our goals this year,” says Rocco.
Part of the 2017 season that the Hounds hope continues is the offensive power from players like senior Andrew Jaehnig. Jaehnig was just the eleventh player in program history to be named an All-American. With a .401 batting average that produced 16 doubles and 53 hits, and a NE-10 record breaker of a slugging average (.637), the senior’s remarkable 2017 season will have all eyes on him this spring.
“Last year gives me a lot of confidence for each and every at bat this season,” says Jaehnig. “That also means that I have to stay within myself and not try and do too much, because I believe in the guys in front and behind me in the lineup to swing it well.”
The Greyhounds took two six game road trips to start the season, both in North Carolina and Florida, to grab their cur- rent record of 4-8. The record is not where the Hounds want it to be, but they are ready to come back North and prove themselves. Senior pitchers Mike Curtis and Tom Horstkotte have already proved their pitching abilities on the road trips, with a combined ERA of 1.49 and six impressive starts so far. “The returning pitching staff has a lot of experience that we will build upon this year,” says Horstkotte. “I think our biggest asset this year is experience.
Day in and day out we have experienced players on the field who compete.” Despite their losses on the road, Coach Rocco thinks that the trips were important for showing what the team needs to work on to have a successful season. “Our first two trips have taught us a lot about our team,” says Rocco. “We feel that as we come back up north to play our conference schedule we have a much better idea of what our lineup will look like and what players we can go to in certain game situations.”
The frustrations on the road won’t make the Hounds lose their focus, and they have
been preparing for the games that are coming in the end of March. “We’re doing whatever we can to get better,” says Horstkotte, who is in his final season with the team. “It’s a completely different feeling this year.” Their success going forward will have to come from finding the right balance of of- fense, defense, and pitching. Of the games played so far, many have had excellent pitching, but a sleepy offense that lost the battle in the end. Many games have also had big hits, but the pitching and defense could not hold the lead in the end.
Coach Rocco and his seniors hope to lead the team into the playoffs, and bring home a title that Assumption College will be proud to have. “We have the hitting and pitching to be very successful in the NE-10 this year,” says Jaehnig, who will end his Assumption career after this season. “Senior year is our last chance to make an impact on this program.” For Rocco, seeing the seniors play their last year is particularly special to him. The group is the first he had recruited
for Assumption back in 2013. “We have had great moments, as well as some other not so great,” says the head coach. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys.”
Jillian Fellows, a sophomore, studies English. She is a staff writer for Le Provocateur.