California here they come! Castleton Baseball will be heading west for their first games of the season.
The Spartans will play their first game this Friday, Feb. 22, when they will take on Whitworth University. They will play six games before heading back east.
Head coach Ted Shipley is entering his nineteenth season at the helm of Castleton’s baseball program. Shipley has led the Spartans to five straight conference titles in the NAC.
“Thursday the twenty-first we’ll fly out,” Shipley said. “We’ll get into California late that afternoon.”
At the beginning of this year Shipley announced that they hired a new pitching coach, former big leaguer and scout John Stewart.
Stewart spent 30 years as a Major League Baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves and the San Diego Padres. He also played for the Braves for seven years.
“I offered to help in the fall,” Stewart said. “Shortly thereafter, the pitching coach stepped down and Ted (Shipley) asked if I would take over.”
Shipley said that it was “a good slide-in situation” having Stewart take over as the new pitching coach.
“He’s close by…he was retired from professional baseball. It’s really good for us…he puts a lot into it.” Shipley said.
Stewart lives in Granville, NY which is about 25 minutes away.
His son, John Stewart III transferred in from SUNY Adirondack this year and is on the team.
He has played baseball at many different schools over the years. He played for Marshall University, South Florida State College, Indian River State College, University at Albany, SUNY Adirondack, and now Castleton.
Stewart III was also drafted to play in the MLB by the Atlanta Braves.
“Having my dad is awesome,” Stewart III said. “He brings a new perspective to the team and has a ton to offer the guys, they’ve really started to buy in to what he has to say.”
Castleton’s baseball program has seen a lot of success in recent years, winning seven NAC titles in the past ten seasons.
However, it’s not about the accolades for Shipley.
“We don’t focus on winning…we are maxing out our situation the best we can,” Shipley said. “I’m an improvement-focused person.”
Stewart III is excited for the opportunity to travel to California to play some tough competition.
“The California trip is gonna be awesome. We play some really good teams so we can really see where we stand as a team on a national level,” he said.
Although the Spartans won’t have their first LEC conference game until March 30, they have 17 games scheduled before then.
The team knows that the competition will be tough during their trip to California.
“It will be a really good test,” Shipley said.