Baseball Ready to Take Next Step

Mike Hellmueller, Managing Editor

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It’s that time of the year again, ladies and gentleman. It’s time to fill up the right field corner and drop the tailgates and cheer on the baseball Panthers.

This year’s team is poised to build of the success of last season. They return several key members from last year’s team and look to take the next step in achieving the ultimate goal of a G-MAC championship.

With all that said, nothing will be easy for the Panthers this year. The boys will board the buses for 35 road games this season as they look to embrace the road warrior mentality. After speaking with Coach Lillpop, it was clear what he was trying to do. “We wanted to get regional games on the schedule and help build up our chances of making a regional.”

To make a regional, the team will have to come together and fight through adversity. We have all heard this cliché. However, this team will be living proof as to how important it is since they have added so many new faces this year. The heavy influx of freshman and junior college transfers will be something the team will have to deal with. According to senior Seth Sharp, this will not be an issue, “I think the new guys just have to get accustomed to how we do things here and at the college level. We have a family atmosphere with our program and we welcome anyone willing to help us win.”

This family will have to overcome the defending outright conference champions Trevecca Nazarene if they want to achieve one of their goals. When asked about that series, senior Josh Vance had this to say, “Those guys are the team to beat. We are not looking ahead to those games though because we have other games on our schedule, but obviously that will be a fun weekend.”

Whether it is Trevecca, Alderson Broadus, or this season even University of Southern Indiana, who is the defending national champions, the Panthers will be put to the test and must find a way to battle through a difficult schedule. With the Panthers having so little home games, it is a must that students make it out to Panther Park and support the team.

To combat the schedule, the Panthers will lean on players like senior Matt Pobereyko, junior Andrew Moralez, and sophomore Matt Lasley to help anchor the pitching staff. Losing so many pitchers will cause Coach Lillpop and the staff to redefine roles, but they have the leadership of those men to lean on.

Not only does this team have leaders on the mound, they return almost the entire starting infield from last year. The middle infield will look familiar with senior Dennon Koziol and Vance roaming around. Senior Kyle Emig will move from the outfield to first base and senior Tyler Howard has moved to the outfield. These men along with returning junior Johnathan Eberhardt, who hit .444 last season and racked up several end of the year awards, will be called upon to play major roles offensively.

Obviously, this is not a team that can lean on one player and they do not want to have to do that. Every single person on the team will contribute at some point throughout the year and each person is ready to tackle the task. This is a team truly set on one common goal and is ready to do whatever it takes to achieve it. Koziol said it best, “Our team motto is ‘All In’ because we know everyone has to buy in for us to win games.”

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Baseball Ready to Take Next Step