Quakers’ new season filled with fresh faces

Quakers%E2%80%99+new+season+filled+with+fresh+faces

Despite the cold, the Guilford College Baseball team has been practicing and their season has begun.

The Quakers hope to improve on their record from last year of 17-24 overall and 6-14 in Old Dominion Athletic Conference(ODAC) play. Last year was their third season in a row with a losing record.

“(The team) this year has improved just from an overall standpoint,” said junior infielder Josh Shepherd. “Just showing up to work every day, just the drive to win think is here more than it was last year.”

The Quakers lost 12 seniors last season including their number one starting pitcher Parks Smithey. Offensively they lost Jacob Roberts, Grayson Tuttle, Chuck Noble and A.J Girting who were all key contributors.

Noble led the team in batting average at .366 and hit two home runs which was tied for most on the team. Roberts hit .305 and started 37 of the 40 games, Tuttle and Girting hit .276 and .242, respectively.

With the loss of the last year’s seniors, this year’s nine veterans are going to have to step up and fill their shoes.

“(Eric) Yost, John Todd, Logan Jones, Joe Lenoir are all going to factor in on the mound for us,” said head coach Nick Black. “(Andrew) Brann, offensively for us, Joe Metts, first base. I mean all those guys are going to play a role for us.”

They also return senior Rocco Wilcox who had a batting average of .351 and looks to be the leadoff hitter for the team.

The Quakers also have a first-year group with lots of potential; there are 19 first-years on the 40-man roster for Guilford.

“We got a really good group of (first-years),” said Black. “A lot of young guys are going to play a role for us this year.”

The group of first-years include at least one player who walked on to the team.

“I actually walked (this year) and I’ve seen a lot of improvement in myself,” said Gabriel Ortiz. “The whole team aspect is new to me (…) and just being on a team like this, it’s just made me a better player. I was coming here for academics and I decided that I wanted to continue to try and play at the next level.”

The Quakers were ranked ninth in the ODAC preseason poll and the defending conference champions; Randolph-Macon College were in first place.

“I don’t think it means anything before the season,” said Black.

The Quakers played two nonconference games last weekend against Piedmont College and split the games. The Quakers won the first game 6-5 thanks to a go-ahead RBI single by first-year Logan Washle in the seventh inning. The Quakers dropped the second game 10-1 and struggled with pitching and hitting with runners on base. Metts leads the team with four hits in the first two games including one double. Sophomore infielder Mitchell Stumpo also has four hits and two walks.

“In high school the play is a little bit slower so I had to speed up for the college game and in the fall,” said Washle. “I really noticed myself step up to the college level and I didn’t think I was capable of it.”

The Quakers’ next game is a three game nonconference series over the weekend beginning today at William Peace University. They will play at home Saturday at 2 pm before going back to William Peace for the final game of the series.

“Just show up every day and try to win that day and take it pitch by pitch all throughout the season,” said Shepherd. “I think with this team and this talent we have and the competitive edge in everyone here, once we look down at our record at the end of the year I think we’ll be in a good spot.”