How was your spring break? Probably not as good as spending it in the Sunshine State playing America’s pastime for nine days.
That’s exactly what the baseball team did, coming home with a winning record.
It wasn’t the perfect 8-0 they accomplished last year at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational, but 5-4 certainly isn’t anything to be upset about.
While we were all lazily enjoying our time off, with no school work or grades to worry about, the team was being tested. When asked how the team did on that test, head coach Mike Dickson gave them a passing grade.
“I would say overall probably a ‘B’,” Dickson said. “I would say starting pitching probably an ‘A’. I would say offensively probably a ‘C.’ Bullpen probably a ‘B.’”
Maybe mom doesn’t hang a “B” on the fridge, but you’re certainly still getting your ice cream after dinner.
And there are a few good reasons the team didn’t ace the trip.
The first is injuries. If you’ve been following this team at all, you’ll know losing Dan Shane and Dillon Mendel hurts the team’s offense. Add Mitch Walker getting injured in a collision against Bradley University and now there’s three offensive weapons out of the lineup.
“You’d always like to have at least three guys hot in your lineup,” Dickson said. “And when nobody’s hot, it’s like you’re just trying to manufacture some runs that you can. Obviously, when you have six or seven guys hot, the lineups are scoring a ton of runs. We were trying to get a couple guys hot… hitting is contagious. There’s days where you’re not seeing it well or mentally it’s such a difficult game.”
Dickson did the best he could to manipulate and manage the lineup to get players hot toward the top of the order, but you can only do so much with a depleted roster. He expects all three to return by this weekend, though.
Another reason for the 5-4 trip is the competition they saw.
“We saw some good arms,” Dickson said. “When you’re a top-ranked team, you’re seeing everyone’s number one. That’s only going to make us better for the time to come.”
A great flex there by Dickson and a testament to how confident and proud he is of this team. And while I’m listing this as something that kept them down, he sees it as a positive to gauge where they are for the rest of the season and I tend to side with him as he’s the baseball coach and I’m just writing about it.
This was seen clearly in the 3-0 loss to Bradley who is a top-40 ranked Division I team that Danny Serreino held to no runs on three hits for seven innings while striking out 12 batters.
The last reason would be the back-to-back days with games and a doubleheader. Dickson didn’t make this seem like an issue other than that he couldn’t use someone out of the bullpen without rest and had to manage around that.
What he liked about playing every day was the repetition that the players got that will help them throughout the season, especially after having games canceled early on.
In the popular TV series, The Office, Michael Scott said “My weaknesses are actually strengths.”
Dickson’s squad clearly follows this same philosophy.
The Brown and Gold came home from Florida and took care of business in their home opener against Haverford College 11-2 on Tuesday and Neumann University 2-0 behind a complete-game shutout by Justin Smith.
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