PSU Baseball Preview
Along with melting snow, thinner clothing and blossoming love, spring brings us baseball. There are few teams more ready for the upcoming season than the Plymouth State University Baseball team. The Panthers have already started what they hope to be a successful campaign with four consecutive victories in New York. Winning is a theme that Head Coach Dennis McManus hopes to continue.
"There's corny adages in baseball, you know, obviously win every game you play. That one game at a time kind of thing," said McManus, who has heard questions about goals and early season hopes many times before. McManus is entering his 28th season as PSU Head Baseball Coach. "But to make a long story short, our (the team's) two major goals are to win more games than we lose and qualify for the LEC Tournament." Bryant Lausberg will take on the role of assistant coach this season.
Nineteen players have returned to the baseball diamond this year to represent the green and white. The lineup (at least, as of now) is nearly the same as last season's. The strong chemistry of already having played together will be a huge advantage for the Panthers. "It's a special group kids that are very committed. I think that really makes a difference," says Lausberg. "We've got some great senior leadership. I'm looking for guys to continue to contribute and continue this positive atmosphere. The returning players have really bought in to that philosophy."
Other notable returning players that are expected to have enormous years are senior Luke Merrill (Pittsburg, N.H.) and classmate Mike Cappiello (Westfield, N.J.). Both athletes finished last season with consistent .300 batting averages and have already shown early indications that this year may be even better. Over the weekend in New York, Cappiello knocked in two homeruns in his first two appearances at the plate. Merrill also contributed to the cause with a homerun of his own, his first of the season. Veterans of the pitching staff that are carrying a large amount of expectations on their shoulders are seniors Bobby Chatfield (Sharon, Conn.) and Jonathan Bishop (Woburn, Mass.). Chatfield recorded the team's first win of the season against SUNY Maritime on Saturday (March 10th), pitching four solid innings and letting up only a run. He struck out five.
This year's team already seems to have its own identity, unique in their determination to succeed. The motivation to win, and work as hard as possible to reach that point, is what propels teams to victory. "I can confidently say every-single person's goal on this team is to win as many baseball games possible," said first year Jeff Reynolds (Nashua, N.H.), clearly sharing his coach's sentiments. "We plan to stay this strong all throughout the season and get even stronger so that we can make it to the Little East Tournament and continue to win," said Reynolds.
Coach McManus will watch, as he has in the past, a large group of seniors play their final year of collegiate ball. For McManus, his players will always be the biggest part of his baseball life. "You don't remember specific scores of specific games. You remember the kids. The camaraderie, the lifelong memories and friendships." This team will be no different. With expectations soaring sky high for the Plymouth State Baseball team, the players will be relying on each other, as friends and as teammates, to succeed.
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