25. MISSOURI WESTERN STATE GRIFFONS (34-17)
Final 2012 Ranking: Not Ranked
The Griffs finished second in the MIAA regular season standings, but after an early ouster in the conference tournament the club found themselves without a bid to the South Central Regional. Nonetheless, MWSU matched their highest win total in thirty years and will be looking to rewrite all sorts of records in 2013. Coach Buzz Verduzco returns an experienced lineup that should compete with Central Missouri for tops in the conference and has the potential to compete for a regional crown. Continue reading
26. TUSCULUM PIONEERS (48-10)
Final 2012 Ranking: 8
The Pioneers started last season unranked but won their way into the top five after starting the season 15-0 and twice had streaks of 14 consecutive wins. TC was in the driver’s seat in the Southeast Regional after winning their first two games but their season came to an abrupt end with back-to-back less than 24 later. The Pioneers did win the second most games in school and conference history and their .828 won-loss percentage set a new single-season school mark. Replicating those numbers will be a tough task for Coach Doug Jones. The Pioneers lost several crucial cogs of last season’s success, but as last season indicates Tusculum can be a worthy postseason adversary and shouldn’t be counted out. Continue reading
27. SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE PENMEN (43-15)
2012 Final Ranking: 14
The Penmen had one of the most unusual, yet ultimately successful, seasons in DII baseball last season. After starting the season unranked SNHU entered the rankings midseason, only to fall out once again after a late April swoon in which they went 3-7. Then, despite having the best record in the East, the Penmen missed qualifying for the NE-10 Tournament but were nonetheless awarded the top seed and host of the East Regional which they won to advance to Cary for the first time in school history. It was all very Kafkaesque. Replicating last season’s success will be an arduous task. SNHU may have more talent than last season, but needs to replace their top pitcher and hitter from last season. Continue reading
28. INDIANPOLIS GREYHOUNDS (46-16)
2012 Final Ranking: 12
The Greyhounds had been on the cusp for a breakout season the past few years and finally made their mark in 2012. After running away with the GLVC regular season and tournament titles the upstart ‘Hounds won their first regional crown in 12 years by sweeping the Midwest Regional. UIndy had their season come to an abrupt close in Cary however as the club was bounced following a pair of disappointing offensive efforts. A return trip to North Carolina will not be easy for Head Coach Gary Vaught and the boys in crimson and grey. Gone will be GLVC and Midwest Region Pitcher of the Year, Donovan Drake as well their leading hitter and shortstop Mike Page. While the losses aren’t insurmountable, the Greyhounds will certainly need some players to step up and develop if they are to challenge for another national title. Continue reading
29. ARMSTRONG ATLANTIC PIRATES (41-16)
Final 2012 Rank: 19
The Pirates won both the Peach Belt regular season and tournament titles, but went 1-2 in the Southeast Regional with a pair of lopsided loses to have their season come to a sudden close. The Pirates have the pieces for another run in 2013 but some major contributors, most noticeably slugger Zach Taylor who hit .373 with a .699 slugging percentage, are gone from last year’s team. Head Coach Joe Roberts needs some things to come together to replicate last year’s regular season success, but if the team works hard and throws strikes they could be a force to be reckoned with once again. Continue reading
30 NORTH ALABAMA LIONS (39-18)
2012 Final Ranking: 20
UNA started last season in the top ten and reached the number three position before ending the year in a tie for second place in the Gulf South Conference. The Lions were awarded the seventh seed in the South Regional for the second straight season, but failed to advance further as a pair of quick defeats concluded their season. A third consecutive trip to the extended postseason will not be easy for Head Coach Mike Keehn and the Lions. Graduation depleted the everyday lineup of some important bats, however several strong returning pitchers make North Alabama a team to watch once again. Continue reading
Preseason speculation is one of the best and worst things about sports. It’s fun to guess who is going to be the final team left on the field, dogpiling and Instagraming the postgame celebration to fans and friends, but when it comes down to it the rankings don’t mean a thing. Last season West Chester started the season positioned way down at number 30 in the College Baseball Lineup rankings and didn’t even merit a mention with the other preseason projections. Nonetheless, the Golden Rams won their way to the title on the diamond, just as it should be and it didn’t matter where they were on some stat nerd’s scoresheet. Continue reading
Now that the holiday season is over and our staff is back in the office full time it is a very busy time of year. I get the question all the time from friends and family that are not familiar with the way college baseball works “So, what do you do when you guys are not playing games?” The question is often asked with the look on the persons face waiting on the answer from me to be “Well, we just sit around and wait until next year to start.”
I know that every school is different and some schools have more or less support staff available to the them to help with the day to day operations of their program. I know that even here at ULM, where we have a great set of support personnel, there is still a never ending list of things to do. I could not sit here and name all of them, as it would no longer be a blog it would turn in to a novel, but I will hit some of the high points.
For instance, the past few days in the office I have been working on our future schedules. Scheduling is done well in advance and is a vital part of your teams success. You can’t have too many road games because you can’t miss too much class but then again you need to get the guys away from home to prepare them for playing road games during your conference schedule. This gets tricky at times because everyone wants to play at home.
Another item on our to do list this time of the year is setting up promotions and season ticket sales. While most of this is done in conjunction with our athletic department staff we are still very involved in getting different ideas together and making sure that we have everything streamlined to make the game day experience great for our fans. This is a big part of why we finished in the top 40 nationally in attendance in 2012.
On top of those two you can not forget travel. Hotels need to be booked and buses need to coordinated. Meals need to be set up for the team along with setting up practice times and laundry services. This is something that needs to be set up well in advance so that the trip runs smoothly for our players and they can concentrate on winning ball games.
These are just a few of the things that us coaches do when we are not in season. But the bottom line is that everything we do revolves around one thing. That is making our players experience the best it can be. It all comes back to that. Whether it be putting together a schedule, booking a hotel room, or making sure that the game day experience is the best it can be it all comes back to what is best for our guys. That is what college baseball is all about.
Until next time,
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With 2013 here, I find myself reflecting on the past 20 years of my life and looking at how I’ve gotten to where I am now. It’s hard not to feel just completely blessed with where God has led me in life.
As a college baseball player, I’m living out my dream right now. When I was a kid, I knew I wanted to play baseball for a long time. In my time capsule from first grade, on just about every paper in there I write about how I want to play baseball. Then as a middle-schooler I started dreaming about playing varsity baseball every night. Then I made the varsity team my freshman year and was dreaming about playing college baseball. And now I’m doing that.
I’ve always been a very goal oriented and dream driven person. Everything I do in life, I do because it helps me draw closer to this vision I have. So I look at people older than me who are living day to day working jobs that they don’t like and I wonder to myself, what were their dreams? What did they compromise along the way to not reach whatever goals they had in mind as a kid? Maybe I’m still too young to understand that things happen and come up in life that can force you away from whatever it is that you want in life, but while I’m too young and naive, I’m going to keep grinding every day to keep living this dream.
I’m at the incredible spot in my life where I get to wake up every day and go to school and play baseball. And there’s a big difference between “getting” to do something and “having” to do something. There’s a big attitude change in there. I used to wake up and think, “man I have to go to three classes today then go to a 2 hour practice and then do homework”. Now I’m waking up and I get to do that stuff! While other kids my age are working jobs or just going to school, I get to wake up and get an education and still play this game that I love. There’s not much cooler than that. I’ve got this incredible opportunity in front of me and I’m just thankful every morning that I get another day to go to work.
So this is a raw blog post and probably not the clearest thing I’ll ever write, but I’m an emotional person and this is what’s on my heart this afternoon. God has given me this opportunity to continue chasing my dream and I’m just so thankful for that.
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What motivates you?
Do others motivate you? What is your other? Is it your mom or dad? Is it your brother or sister? Your coach, teammate, or friend? Is it the newspaper, other media, or an online blog? Is it the blonde sitting in the second row? Is it that guy who said you weren’t good enough? Are there others that motivate you?
Does success motivate you? What is your success? Is it winning? Is it not losing? Is it being ranked higher than your rival? Is it a conference, regional, or World Series championship? Is it going 4-for-4 or throwing a complete game? Is it breaking a school record? Is it getting drafted? Are there successes that motivate you?
Does the game motivate you? What about baseball motivates you? Is it the walk-off wins? The dugout-chatter? Is it the pop of the catcher’s mitt or the way a no-doubt, line-drive single feels off your bat? Is the smell of your glove? Is it the mental side of baseball? The splendor of a sacrifice-fly? Are there baseball nuances that motivate you?
Does something Greater motivate you? What is your something greater? Is it appreciating that you get to be a part of college baseball? Is it being thankful you are more physically gifted than most of the people on this planet? Is it knowing that your self-worth is not defined by statistics, wins, or losses? Is it the freedom to play baseball purely for the fun of it? It there a something Greater that motivates you?
What motivates you?