Published in the March 29, 2017 issue of The Bells
With a little over half of the 2017 season behind them, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor baseball team is working hard to bounce back from all of the challenges they have faced. The Cru has an overall record of 10-11 and a 4-5 conference record, but the team is constantly striving to improve and is confident heading in to the second half of the season.
“We are pretty happy with how our season has gone up to this point,” assistant coach Nate Shipp said. “We had a lot of turnovers in our lineup since we’ve had injury issues. We lost four of the nine guys in our starting lineup, so that was a tough start to our season.”
But the team is really fighting through it and playing hard, Coach Shipp said. They have many young players in the lineup, but they’ve come a long way.
“We had a really difficult schedule to start this season with some of the nation’s top competition, but we got through it and played some good ball, and we’re really starting to roll now,” he said. “They’ve done such a good job and they are playing so hard. That’s what makes this group so special.”
Struck with the injury bug early in the season, the young players have had to step up and work together to be successful this season.
“Our biggest challenges this season have been our injuries,” Shipp said.
“On the first day of the season, the team lost two of our junior starters. Just after that, they lost another hitter in their lineup and then this last weekend, we lost a senior pitcher and another starter from the offense.
“So we are really trying to recover from all those losses,” Shipp said. “We are also trying to move the guys around and find where they all fit and what their role is on the team.”
Looking forward to rest of the season, the team is hoping to continuously improve in all areas of the game.
“Since this is a young team, there are some things that these guys just have to learn through playing,” Shipp said. We swing the bat pretty well, but we will get more consistent as we go.
“The team’s infield defense is also a lot of young guys in pressure situations, so they are trying to clean that up as well.”
“But overall, our pitching is starting to throw better and our guys are starting to figure it out, so we are on the right pace,” he said.
After suffering a pair of losses against Concordia University, the Cru struck back and was able to top No. 21-ranked Texas Lutheran University on Tuesday, March 21 at Red Murff Field, snapping the Bulldogs’ six-game winning streak.
“The win against Texas Lutheran was great,” Shipp said. “All parts of the game played very well. We had a few fluke errors here and there, but none of them really led to too much damage.
“The Cru had a couple of really good balls ripped down to the outfield and the pitching was solid. Every time TLU scored, the team came back and scored as well, and that gave them a lot of momentum.”
“That win was huge,” Shipp said. “It’s always special to win at home and the guys played their hearts out. It was awesome.”
Even though the Cru have faced struggles this season, they have been able to come together to work as a team and are constantly improving each day.
“These guys love to have fun together, it’s a very neat group,” Shipp said. “They enjoy playing and being around each other. Everything kind of rolls off their bats, nothing really sticks with them.”
The coach said that when the players make a mistake, they are able to hop back up.
“We do have some older guys in our lineup, with Emery Atkisson back this season, Ty Johnson as a DH and starting pitcher, and Caleb Davis in right field, but our biggest challenge has been our inexperience overall,” the coach said. “However, every game they are improving and getting better and you can see these changes happening every time we play. It has been a lot of fun.”
After going 2-1 against McMurry University over the weekend, the Cru will now face off against their conference rivals, the Belhaven University Blazers, in a three-game series over the weekend at Red Murff Field in Belton, Texas.