After last season’s disappointing end, the Castleton men’s baseball team is looking to start fresh and by season’s end they hope to clinch a NAC championship.
The men entered playoffs last year a number one seed, but lost against Husson in the fourth round – ending NAC play for the Spartans. Then they proceeded to the ECAC tournament, where they fell to Elms in the first round.
Senior pitcher Adam Greenlese said after a great season, they thought they had it all.
“I think we just went into the NAC with the mindset that we were the best and kind of played down to their level so we lost our focus and competitive edge. We started to kind of slow down too and get tired toward the end of the season so I think that had to do with our losses in the end. We had the team to go far but just couldn’t close the deal,” he said.
Looking at the bigger picture, the men are truly proud of last season, ending 28-2 overall and 22-2 in the NAC. But this year they are determined to improve even more.
To accomplish their goals the men have a specific focus in mind.
“We have really been working on trying to not get ahead of ourselves and worry about each game as they come, one game at a time. No other games matter until then,” Greenlese said.
Head Coach Ted Shipley agrees but has this mindset entering each season, not just the games.
“We look at every season (every year) as a totally new team and a new adventure. What we accomplished or didn’t accomplish from year to year doesn’t have much bearing on the current season or team,” he said.
Still, the men are hungry for more.
Greenlese, who went 7-0 on the mound last season, is prepared to come back with more fight than ever and as a pitcher he knows what it takes to be successful.
“Pounding the zone and attacking the hitters is our biggest focus. We are the driving force of the team. As Chad Bentz, our pitching coach says, ‘We are only as good as our pitching staff,'” Greenlese said.
This season kicked off in Texas and Virginia where the men went 3-4, but the experience compared to last year was much different.
“Last year was much more of an experience for us, going to the Dominican Republic. This year is much more about being focused and working hard,” senior catcher Macyn Clifford said.
He also said the team gets a chance to see what they need to work on but that is not the only thing the trips have to offer.
“We are cooped up in the gym all winter and it’s always good to get real game experience. Playing against teams down south is also a step higher as well because they get to play more games before us,” Greenlese said.
Going down south allows the men to show off their individual talent as they compete for a position on the team.
“Our pitchers were pretty consistent with throwing strikes and the hitters had quality at bats, going deep in the count and getting on base,” Greenlese said.
Last year some key players graduated, including Cameron Curler, Ryan Zielinski, Matt Pause and Patrick Riley, and Shipley said the legacy they left behind will be tough to match or beat.
“You would like to coach guys like that forever, but it is now time for someone else to make and leave their mark on the program,” he said.
Shipley said this year’s team is very young but that doesn’t matter as much as “college readiness and performance.”
He said this year the men are anticipating a championship in their future and are ready to compete.
“It’s a solid group of guys,” Shipley said. ” If we can remain hard working and focused, we could become one of the best teams of all time. Only time and a lot of hard work will tell,” Shipley said.