Baseball Season Preview: Young Yeomen Aim High

Phoebe Hammer

The men’s baseball team is headed to Chillicothe, Ohio, to play Case Western Reserve University this weekend for its first game of the season. After a long preseason that included coming back to campus early for two-a-day practices, the Yeomen are ready to get on the field.

“I’m just happy to be going outside again,” said sophomore second baseman Michael McDonald. “I couldn’t go to sleep last night thinking about the season. I’m really pumped, and I think everyone is.”

It has been difficult for the men to practice in Williams Field House, especially sharing with other spring sports teams. “There is so much set-up for baseball,” explained Head Coach Adrian Abrahamowicz, who is beginning his second season at Oberlin. “You need to be efficient, well-organized.”

Despite the difficulties involving its practice location, the team feels confident in its upcoming match. “We are ready,” said McDonald. “Even though we have only been practicing indoors, we have been doing live pitcher-hitter situations. It also helps that our first game is on turf.”

The team dynamic will be drastically different this season after graduating seven starting seniors last year: two starting pitchers, two outfielders, the catcher, third baseman and closer.

This change in the roster has not discouraged the players or coaches, however. Abrahamowicz is confident in the 2012 season: “The biggest thing I have seen this year is a total team commitment to the off-season this fall. They took things really seriously during the summer too … but the biggest difference between this year and years past is that they have been getting in the weight room and working on speed. Sure, we are young, but we are deeper.”

This year, lone senior and captain Jason James will take the main leadership position both on and off the field. As a pitcher, he has started 16 games, pitched 74 innings, and had 54 career strikeouts. “He is a level guy,” Abrahamowicz added. “Great student. He is a really good example for not just the team, but for Oberlin athletics in general. It is his turn to steer the ship.”

James won’t be alone in setting a good example. According to the coaching staff, we should be seeing big things from McDonald and junior Eric Knight this season as well. Knight is the projected No. 1 starter for Oberlin on the mound and Abrahamowicz is predicting that he “is really going to step it up this year.” McDonald, meanwhile, will be taking over as the closer. “[McDonald] is a cool kid, and he is a guy that could have a great year for us as well. [Knight and McDonald] are two of the most experienced players for us,” Abrahamowicz added.

You can come see the team in action in its first home game of the season against Bluffton University on March 14 at 4 p.m.