The deck was pretty stacked against the Rowan baseball team as they went into Ashland, Virginia, last weekend to start the season with a three-game series against Randolph-Macon College.
The Yellow Jackets were already 6-0 and carrying a veteran roster, while the Profs were seeing their new roster, which is comprised of mostly freshmen and transfer players, in action for the first time.
Head coach Mike Dickson said the unfamiliarity is likely why his team was swept.
“We had a lot of new guys out there,” Dickson said. “We had some jitters early on and we didn’t necessarily play our best when it was needed, but I’m confident we can turn it around.”
Rowan lost the first game of the series on Saturday then dropped both games of a doubleheader the following day. The second contest marked senior pitcher Dylan Johannink’s first start since 2014, after missing all of last season due to an ulnar collateral ligament tear.
“After the first two games we started to get it together,” senior first baseman and captain Steven Todd said. “It was our first time out there, and there was a lot of nerves because we have a lot of new guys and a lot of freshmen. Once we settle in, the bats will start swinging and the rest will follow.”
Though the Profs are still trying to get everyone on the same page, they are confident that once they find their identity, they can win some games. A lot of the new players in the clubhouse already have college baseball experience, some even at the Division I level.
However, Todd said he believes that it is not enough to just be a good individual player in this league; you have to be a good team player as well.
“We can’t do it alone, we have to do it as a team,” Todd said. “We have to bring everyone together and get everyone excited if we’re going to get it done.”
The trick to bringing everyone together is simple, according to senior right-handed pitcher and captain Corey Feigenbaum.
“We just have to get everyone to buy into the Rowan baseball program,” Feigenbaum said. “We’ve done a good job of it so far. We worked out hard in the offseason and we’ve started building relationships with each other. Now its just putting it all out on the field and making it work, and I think we’re capable of doing that.”
With Randolph-Macon in their rearview, the team now looks ahead to home matchups against Stevens Institute of Technology and York College (PA) on Sunday and Monday, respectively, before heading to the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational over spring break.
While it is the last home opener for Todd and Fiegenbaum, they both said they were excited to play in front of the home crowd early in the year. The Profs did not see action in Glassboro until March 25 a season ago, following the Florida trip.
“It’s nice to get out here before Florida and get a couple more games in,” said Feigenbaum. “I wish it wasn’t my last home opener but I always love playing in front of our home crowd.”
These two matchups will be crucial for the Profs to get on the same page before heading to Florida. If they can use their tough start to the year as motivation, Dickson says, Rowan should be able to turn it around and answer the call.
“We just have to move forward,” Dickson said. “That weekend’s behind us; we’ll never forget it, but we will learn to take what we can out of it and move on.”
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