With the winter season coming to a slow but gradual end, the spring sports, such as baseball, prepare for their seasons to begin.
Junior pitcher Connor Johnson said there is a lot more to baseball pre-season than people think. Baseball starts early too, with pre-season beginning in fall, a few weeks after the return of students. “We begin with tryouts that are run very much like games with two teams against each other and such. That’s just to see what guys can do in game-like pressure situations,” Johnson said.
As the fall progresses into the winter, the team focuses on weight lifting and getting stronger so they can become durable during the season, Johnson added.
On top of the physical exercise comes the phase of actual practices in the gym, which gives the team a taste for baseball and makes them hungry to go outside and play, Johnson said.
“Pitchers throw their bullpens to deactivate our arms after we shut them down from the end of fall to the beginning of Christmas break. As our pitchers get back into the hang of things, we will do ‘live days’ where our pitchers face our batters in “live at-bats” to simulate at-bats in a game,” Johnson said.
Focusing on the little things such as bunt coverages, defense with runners on first and third and pick-offs from pitchers really helps the team focus and keep their mind on the important parts, Johnson added. “You get what you put into it. Even though we have a hard-working group, we need to put our effort into our craft and make it hard for ourselves, which I think we do well.”
Junior pitcher Brandon Heath said there is no off season in collegiate baseball.
“During the winter months we have team workouts four days a week to help prepare our bodies for the season. The pitchers also start throwing to strengthen their arms and hitters take a ton of reps in the batting cage to perfect their swings,” Heath said.
Due to the New England weather, the team has to spend most of their pre-season inside, which is difficult because inside infielders don’t get true ground balls and outfields can’t practice fly balls like they can on a baseball field, Heath said.
“When in practice we like to take advantage of what we can do. To practice as realistic as we can, our pitchers throw live to batters in the cage so hitters can face real pitching like a game situation,” Heath said. “As far as practices go, you are trying to get better for the season so they should be hard. If every practice was easy then you aren’t giving yourself and your team mates the best chance to succeed in the spring. We work hard in the off season for a reason,” added Heath.
Senior Noah Rizio said that each day of pre-season is different, with a variety of exercises that the team focuses on.
Rizio said the team starts in the summer with playing in different summer leagues along with lifts that the trainer, Sarah Testo, gives them.
Then in the fall, the team has practices for about four weeks with two games at the end of the fall with any school that’s close to them, Rizio added. “We’re pretty relaxed as a group.
Of course we get on each other sometimes, but sometimes you have to.
We all want the same thing, and that’s to win in the spring.
We all know what we have to do,” Rizio said. In the past, the baseball team had some issues with negativity, but Rizio said the team and players have grown since then.
“We’re now all on the same page and it’s more fun to be a part of this team than it has in any of the last three years I’ve been here. I have a lot of confidence that we will be more successful because of it,” Rizio said.
Caroline Perry can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org