By MARK SANDOVAL – CENTO WRITER
The snow has melted and spring is finally showing her face in Danville, Ky.
In addition to Easter and Derby preparations, this means that the baseball season for the Centre College Colonels is underway.
Believe it or not, the college baseball season is actually winding down; the Colonels only have three regular-season games left before the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) Conference Tournament.
The Colonels have twelve wins to 19 losses, though most of those losses came during the first part of the season, when the inclement weather played a major factor in the team’s preparations.
The majority of this season has been played out in one of the worst winters Danville has ever seen, and this has had a big effect on the team, as evidenced by a number of postponed games and games stopped in the seventh or eighth inning. In fact, when the team played their first game on Feb., 15, a defeat at the hands of Maryville College, the players had yet to have an official practice outdoors on the field due to snow and freezing temperatures.
Since the rough beginning to the season, though, things have definitely improved for the Colonels.
They have won seven of their last eleven games overall, including a nail- biting win against Emory University, who was ranked 29th in the country at the time. They have also won five of their last eight games in conference play, which brings their conference record to 6-10.
During this stretch, the Colonels also picked up a 2-0 win against eleventh ranked Birmingham Southern College.
Sophomore starting pitcher Rob Caudill commented on the team’s early-season struggles. “We have bounced back after a pretty rough start, which is a good sign with all the young guys on the team.
“A lot of young guys are getting tons of reps, which I think bodes well for the future,” Caudill said. Of the 31 team members, two are seniors, five are juniors, and the rest are sophomores and first-years.
Even some of the leaders on this team are extremely young. Sophomore Stephen Shunk was named the SAA Pitcher of the Week for games played from March 31 to April 6. Shunk was also named to the D3baseball.com team of the week for his performance against conference rival Sewanee University of the South.
In addition to Shunk, Caudill was also named SAA Pitcher of the Week for his stellar pitching display against Birmingham-Southern College. The pitcher with the best record is first-year reliever Alex Edwards, who is 4-1.
“Our conference is really tough. There is no series you can really ‘take off’ because every team is so good,” Caudill said. “We have a couple of tough series coming up to close out the regular season, but we feel like if our pitchers throw strikes, we make the routine plays in the field, and get timely hits we can beat anybody. I think we have proven that.”
This team has definitely showed its resiliency and toughness throughout the season, especially considering its youth and the unfortunate weather of the first part of the year.
The fact that they still have a chance to compete in the conference tournament and potentially pull off a couple of upsets is exciting not only for now, but also for the future of the program.
Centre hosts Berry College, the third place team in the SAA, on Fri., April 18 and Sat., April 19. The SAA Conference Tournament will be held April 25-27 at a to-be-determined site.