Baseball Optimistic for Season

Team has nine seniors on the diamond this spring


Photo by Taylor Huck

Freshman Elijah Byrd went 3-4 with three RBIs and drove in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Cody Gibson

Baseball season has arrived, and teams have already played their openers with the Panthers posting a 3-4 record so far. 

The Panthers won their opener with a 2-1 series with Elijah Byrd’s, freshman, RBI walk-off single over Alfred State.

Ryan Brittle, head coach, and his team have some good feelings for this season.

“We are very optimistic this year. We have a good core group of upperclassmen that have been in this program for three or four years.  We also have several young guys who have performed well and will be a nice complement to those older guys,” Brittle said.

The team has nine seniors this year to help them out.

You can’t have a good team without great seniors.  We have nine seniors, and they make all the difference in the world to those young guys!!  The seniors set the example and lead and guide these younger guys to help them make their way through the season,” Brittle said.

Brady Owen, junior pitcher, is coming off of Tommy John’s surgery, which takes players out for 9-12 months.

“Being out for a year is a long time without being able to play. It took a while to be able to get comfortable on the mound again. My arm care routine is a lot more in-depth now because of the injury,” Owen said.

The length of a baseball season is 40 games, not including the postseason, which can eventually wear and tear the body down.

It’s a grind. We play 40 varsity and roughly 20 jv games in the span of about two and a half months. To be able to stay mentally locked in on the field and also be able to be a student and go to class and keep your grades up is an extremely difficult thing to do!!” Brittle said

Every year, teams usually have a breakout player or most improved player.

“We have several guys that are ready to step up their game.  On the mound, Cameron Mullins, (senior) pitcher, is healthy and ready to shoulder a big load.  Matthew Sheppard, (junior) pitcher, will anchor the back end of our bullpen.  As always we will look to Ozzie Torres, (senior) infielder, and Grayson Chitwood for offense,” Brittle said.

Teams practice almost every day up until game day to be the best they can be.

“As a team, we work on our energy and enthusiasm every day. Give everything we got and doing things 100% on the field, so we can have a productive day that’s the most important thing we try to achieve,” Ozzie Torres Infielder, senior, said.

Teams have opponents that they face where it means a little more to win.

“I would say our biggest rival is Roanoke College. Every time we play them, it’s a dog fight. Very competitive baseball games when we play them,” Nickolas Funk catcher, senior, said. 

The Panthers are looking to improve their record from last year which was 15-25, and it starts with their strengths. 

“I feel this year is different because we’re more all-around pretty sound. We have a pitching staff of guys that we can rely on to come in and compete in pressure situations. Our defense is very reliable and fundamentally sound. Our hitters are smart in situational hitting and can get the job done when in that situation,” Funk said.