The Guilfordian

Filed under In Print, Sports

Baseball swings into action this season

Head coach Nick Black and his baseball team are ready for the season, but inexperience is a looming threat to their start.

Last season, Guilford’s baseball team missed Old Dominion Athletic Conference playoffs by a slim margin. They put up intimidating stats, hitting 10 home runs, a .316 team batting average finishing the season 22-17 overall, and 9-11 in conference play. Much of their success was gifted to outgoing seniors, helping them string up a 4.50 ERA and .419 slugging percentage.

However, this season poses a problem for coach Black since he is bringing onto the team eight new first-years and only has seven seniors on a 36-person team. Black says that even though inexperience will be a key factor coming into the season, he is not worried about it.

“I think we have the most talented pitching staff that we have had here probably since 2006, which was my first year as the head coach,” Black said. “We are going to have some pains here and there, but the fact that they are so talented, hopefully we can move through those pains as quickly as possible.”

Throughout the offseason, Black has been working with his players on fundamental baseball plays. He says he understands that baseball can be crazy sport where a win or a loss can be decided on anything miraculous.

“What we try to do is control what we know we can control,” Black said. “We really focus on things like our attitude and our effort. We just go out there and compete the best way we can every day.”

Sophomore Ryan Hill took the initiative over the summer to play in a summer league. While playing with the Randolph County Post 45, in the Coastal Plain Legion, he touted a 3.15 ERA and a .225 batting average. Black says this experience Hill has achieved is something he is looking forward to this season and continues to push him to success.

Hill’s team made it to the American Legion World Series, and he says that knowledge and skill building there has helped him tremendously.

“Since my team made it to the World Series, I feel that it helped me grow in tough situations as far as knowing what to do and when to do it,” Hill said. “It definitely increased my love for competition as well.”

Sophomore pitcher Ty Walser shares the same optimism about the young team that coach Black has. Walser says he is looking forward to the competition and is eager to see what the team will do this season.

“This year is going to be a special year for us,” Walser said. “We have a lot of guys coming in from junior college and coming in as (first-years), and I know they are going to do good for us. So, I think we will be pretty set, and I think it’ll be fun and good for us.”

Guilford hosts Greensboro College on Feb. 9, and emotions are high in this rivalry. After losing the series to them last year, 2-1, the baseball team are looking to turn it around this year. Coach Black says the intensity will be ramped up and that the excitement will be tremendous when they play Greensboro College.

“I am excited,” Walser said. “I want to win because they beat us in the series last year, and I feel like this year we have better talent and can go out to win. I’m looking forward to it.”

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