Capital Baseball looks forward to 2017 regular season

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This spring, the Capital University baseball team is looking to improve on last season’s performance. Under head coach Ryan Grice, the program looks to compete within the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) and beyond.

Much like the softball team, the baseball team begins their season in Florida. Play starts on Saturday, Feb. 25, and the team will play a total of nine games against other Division III opponents from the Midwest.

This year’s team contains eleven seniors playing at several major positions. The team is led by returning seniors, third baseman Logan Bastin and starting pitcher Shane Wellman. Bastin posted a .415 batting average on the 2016 season, which tied him with Brett Colburn for the team lead. Wellman earned a 1.75 ERA, the second-best on the 2016 pitching staff.

Coach Grice also has seniors starting at center field, second base, and catcher. In addition to defensive positions, seniors also hold the number one and number two spots in the pitching rotation. Though the seniors hold down many of the starting positions, Coach Grice speaks highly of the underclassmen and the depth they provide the team.

“We just need to grow a little bit and get a little stronger, but we like our freshman class,” Grice said of the underclassman leadership. He specifically mentioned pitcher Ross Thompson and shortstop Beau Otto as projected starters.

Coach Grice remarked that the team is already cashing in on the experience and know-how of the many seniors and described the long road that many of the players traveled throughout their early years in the program.

“[They] grew as a group that started to play really young,” Grice said. “[As] freshmen and sophomores they got beat up pretty good, and then they started to grow.”

Grice continued on about how injuries had hindered the team in recent years and made some remarks about how he was looking forward to keeping his team healthy for the upcoming season.

When asked about competition in the OAC, Grice cited the “same cast of characters” as in recent years, referencing John Carroll University, Otterbein University, and Marietta College as the toughest upcoming adversaries. He added that Otterbein has graduated several vital seniors and cited them as a beatable opponent.

Coach Grice made it clear that the team was already looking toward an OAC championship and a postseason but also stated that his athletes were taking the season day by day.

“That’s our only goal,” Grice said of the playoffs. “That’s our guys’ goal. They understand that we have the talent to do that.”

Aside from talent, Grice also remarked how impressed he was with the maturity and drive of his players, as well as the leadership of his seniors.

“Sometimes when you have a big senior class, it’s tough,” Grice said, “but this senior class is great. We’ve really pressed on them to be extensions of the coaching staff and they have done an outstanding job.”

Overall, Coach Grice appears immensely pleased with the 2017 baseball team. Confidence is growing, and the team is eager to begin regular season play. Coach Grice knows the team has potential, and states that the team is also aware.

“They understand. They understand how good they can be.”

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