The Stevenson University baseball team is entering the 2017 season with very high expectations. Following a 2016 season that saw the Mustangs finish 21-22, the team has a newfound energy and is eager to get the season underway.
Earlier this month, the Mustangs were selected to finish fourth in the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Commonwealth preseason poll. This marks the third year in a row the team was chosen to come in fourth place in the conference. The three teams chosen in front of the Mustangs were Alvernia, Widener and Messiah.
In the past three seasons, the Mustangs have made it to the MAC Commonwealth conference championship. This year however, the team wants more than to just reach the championship; they want to claim the title.
“We’re working towards several team goals such as winning 25 games, and defeating some of the nationally ranked opponents on our schedule,” said graduate assistant Jordan Wright. “The ultimate goal is to win the MAC Commonwealth Championship — no question,” said Wright.
The team returns 20 players, including some major contributors from last season. On offense, the Mustangs welcome back key players including junior Jake Hall and senior Kevin Kopas. The Mustangs’ bullpen is also returning several pitchers who will be relied on to contribute wins for the team.
“Two guys that will be relied on heavily this season are sophomores Dan Williams and James Wiercinski. These are two guys that we can depend on to step on the mound and deliver against anybody we face,” said Wright.
Players like Kopas and Hall will contribute to the numbers they posted last season.
“We will have an upperclassmen-led offense that we are relying on to produce for us. Guys like Kevin Kopas, Jake Hall, junior Billy Small and junior John D’Aquanno will be important players for us this season,” added Wright.
The Mustangs seem to have found a new energy and commitment this season.
“Compared to last season, I feel that this team is a lot more of a cohesive unit. We are more well-rounded one through nine and pitching-wise. We’re all a team and we’re going to get it done together,” said Williams, who added that the team approaches each day with a “win the day” mentality and that everyone is dedicated to earning results.
The team opens up the season this weekend in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where they will play three games, facing Frostburg State, Rutgers Newark and Penn State Abington.
“We know what Frostburg State and Penn State Abington bring because we’ve played them before, but this is the first time we’ll be playing Rutgers Newark. I think we just want to go out there and really gel together on this first trip. Our goal is always to go out there and be 3-0 on the road trip,” said Williams.
The team’s home opener is on Saturday, March 11 against Eastern.