Randy Ollie, Sports Editor
This week, the Review sat down with men’s baseball pitchers senior captain Harrison Wollman, junior ace Kyle Dominy and sophomore Milo Sklar to discuss the state of the team, goals for the season and feelings surrounding their home opener Saturday.
The baseball team had the most successful year in Oberlin men’s athletics history last year. Are you expecting that type of success again, or are you tempering your expectations?
Milo Sklar: I would say that we aren’t tempering our expectations, but I think it’s kind of ridiculous to expect the long run into the playoffs and regionals that we had last year. That’s just a lot of wins.
Harrison Wollman: Our goal is the same as last year, and that’s to win a conference championship. Once you get to Chillicothe — the location of the conference tournament — anything can happen. So we’re just trying to stay within ourselves.
How have you individually improved as a player since last year, and how do you think the team has changed?
HW: Personally, I’ve worked to make several mechanical adjustments that I think should really help me contribute this year, and I think the team in general has improved its defense.
Kyle Dominy: For me, I have individually improved by getting more experience under my belt, continuing to work on managing the game better and throwing each pitch with the same amount of conviction. I think our team has definitely improved defensively as well. We field the ball much more consistently, and have great chemistry when we play defense on the field.
MS: I think the pitching staff has really taken strides since last year as a whole. We have become more consistent because of more focused practice habits and a greater attention to doing everything with a purpose throughout the fall, the winter and the beginning of spring.
Almost the entire starting lineup [has graduated]. How have you guys bounced back from losing so many important seniors? Have people stepped up to replace them?
KD: I think people have definitely stepped up to replace them. Not every player is the same, just like in any sport. But I know the guys [who] returned and the incoming freshman have worked really hard. Everyone has been doing all the right things to prepare to go out and execute.
MS: We’ve always had the mentality as a team that if someone goes down to injury or isn’t playing well at that time, then the next guy will come up and help them out. This year, we’re confident that guys are going to come in and step up in multiple positions and fill the roles we need them to.
HW: We may have lost a lot of seniors last year, but I think we’re much deeper than we have ever been. We have plenty of guys that can step up, from first-years to seniors.
On the other hand, your core-pitching group remained largely intact. How important do you think pitching will be to the success of the team this year? Are you confident in yourselves and the rest of the bullpen?
HW: I definitely think that good pitching is a key to success for us this season. We are confident in the entire staff, especially the bullpen.
KD: I think pitching is crucial for any team. After all, limiting runs is how you win games. We are all confident in each other and ourselves, and we know that anyone who comes in is going to pick you up if you need it. We function well as a staff.
MS: We lost a [great player] last year in Justin Kidd, but we gained a lot of valuable first-years that I think are going to step up a lot sooner than most people suspect and help the team.
With the season opener coming up this Saturday, how are you feeling heading into the game?
KD: I think everyone is excited for the season to start on Saturday. We’ve been practicing since the fall. It’s been cold, so we’ve been inside a lot, but now the weather is starting to turn and spring is starting to come. We have games, and everyone is excited to get out there and reap the rewards of our hard work.
MS: It’s always exciting to get out on the field for the first time. We’ve been looking forward to this for the entire month that we’ve been in the field house working away. This is what it’s all about.
HW: We’re all excited for this first game. Ohio Northern [University] is a formidable opponent, but we all believe that we can take two from them this Saturday.
What is an individual and team goal you have for the season?
MS: There’s only one goal this year and that’s to win the conference championship. Obviously, it would feel better to win more games in conference or overall, but at the end of the day, the conference championship is what really matters.
HW: Again, our number one goal is to win a conference championship, but getting a home playoff game would be really exciting.
KD: For me, the individual and team goal is one and the same: Win in Chillicothe, and win another conference championship.
What is your favorite part about being on the baseball team?
MS: My favorite part about being on the baseball team is the treatment that we get when we’re on the road. The Cracker Barrel and Golden Corral meals were really something that pulled me to Oberlin as a high school senior, and they haven’t let me down through my first season. I’m looking forward to another go during my sophomore trip.
HW: Definitely Cracker Barrel. Their steak and eggs fire me up.
KD: Obviously Cracker Barrel is an obligatory answer here, but my favorite part of being on the baseball team is playing in front of our raucous home crowd. They’re on their feet all day, they’re loud, they’re in the action and I think you just can’t replicate that type of environment anywhere else in college sports.