By Cale Pieczynski
Saint Mary’s University’s baseball team is working hard toward the launch of their season in hopes of repeating their appearance in last year’s Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) tournament.
In 2012, the Cardinal baseball squad had one of its best seasons of the past decade finishing 22-20 overall while earning a tournament birth. The Cardinals seemed to have surprised many teams around the MIAC with their first conference tournament appearance since 2002.
“We don’t stress worrying about the outcome, we like to focus more on the process (practices, team energy, etc.),” said Head Baseball Coach Nick Winecke. “If we do that, the results will handle themselves.”
The Cardinals are picked to finish sixth in the MIAC, according to the 2013 MIAC Baseball Preseason Coaches’ Poll. This low rank is an extra motivator for the team.
The team’s main motto or slogan for this season is W.I.N., which stands for “What’s Important Now.”
Looking back on the 2012 season, the Cardinals’ biggest Achilles’ heel was their pitching staff, which finished last in the MIAC in team ERA and runs allowed. This year, however, the pitching staff is looking to improve by adding eight freshmen pitchers, losing nobody to graduation and having a different mindset of focusing on the process rather than the outcome. The 2013 pitching staff is led by a core group of five upperclassmen, including last year’s emerging ace senior Teddy VanRanst.
Along with the pitching staff, the Cardinals are also excited to be returning two-thirds of their starting lineup in the field. This lineup includes three juniors who earned 2012 All-MIAC honors: designated hitter Jon Schlemmer, first basemen Kevin Gannon and second basemen Paul LaNasa.
“We have a lot of guys that do a lot of things that don’t show up in the box score of a game,” said Coach Winecke. “And they’re ultimately the reason why our team is successful, because they compliment everyone else.”
The 2013 Cardinals are determined and ready for the season to begin as they try to build on a successful 2012 campaign. With the mindset of focusing on what’s important now and not looking too far ahead, there’s no telling how far the Cardinals will go.