The Maryville College baseball team prepares for their upcoming season despite new rivals. As a young team, they face this season with an intent to build confidence among players.
The University of Texas at Tyler, Trinity University and Millsaps College are all new teams MC will face during the 2017 season due to the new USA South Conference divisions. Trinity was last year’s national championship winner.
“When preparing for teams we haven’t seen before, we really try to keep things very simple and prepare like we always do,” said head coach Cody Church. “In baseball, it’s important to do the little things very well. That’s something we talk about before every practice and game.”
The first game played had MC kicking off the season with a 10-6 win against Johnson University on Feb. 4. Millsaps College was an invitational game played on Feb. 11, and MC won 0-6. However, on Feb. 11, MC lost 4-2 to Trinity and to Texas-Tyler with a score of 8-1 on Feb. 12.
With both wins and losses, the MC baseball team strives to do their best during each and every match.
“In baseball, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the opponent. At the end of the day, it comes down to us doing our jobs and playing clean baseball – if we can do that for 9 innings, there’s a high chance we will win that day,” said Church. “That keeps you from playing differently in big games. We want to approach every day – and opponent – the same. If we can do that consistently, wins will be the result.”
The goal for most competitive sports, including playing to best of their abilities, is improving and setting goals as a team to win. For the MC baseball team, goals include “playing [their] best baseball at the end of the season” and “make an NCAA regional” according to Church.
A few key players for this season include junior Johnny Carpenter, freshman Derek Hurt, senior Joe Jones, junior Bryce Redaja, junior Evan Ezell and junior Andrew Henry. Evan Heffner, junior, is the No. 1 starting pitcher. Junior Patrick Messinger, Jones, and Carpenter are the captains for the team.
“Johnny Carpenter is a returning all-conference outfielder. Derek Hurt is a redshirt freshman outfielder coming off USA South Rookie of the Week honors. Joe Jones was all region last year as a junior and we expect big things from him,” said Church. “Bryce Redaja has been a key addition from a junior college in AZ. Lastly, Evan Ezell and Andrew Henry are in their junior years after starting their first two years.”
Maryville College is a part of the NCAA III division. For the Scots baseball team, they have three games every weekend.
“Our team has battled a ton of adversity already this year. From injuries, sickness, and everything in between,” said Church. “We hope that through these struggles, our guys will continue to become closer and gel together. When a team is a cohesive unit, they can overcome any adversity that is thrown at them.”