By Alexander Teal
After a less than stellar 2011 campaign, the Fitchburg State Falcons baseball team was back on Riccards Field on Monday. The fall season brings new hope as well as uncertainty to both returning players and newcomers. Although the regular season is still months away, what occurs in the fall plays a major role in creating the team’s identity in the spring.
The first day of fall practice showed the team’s inability to successfully catch and throw, which stood out to Head Coach Todd Lynch. After practice Lynch said, “I was very pleased with the effort but concerned with defense, you can’t win without defense.”
Team captain Mike Mercier added, “It was a good day. I think we have a good returning core group who will bring the young guys along. I’m excited to see how we put it all together.”
Day one of fall practice may not seem important to the uninformed but a lot is learned by the coaches when they can see what talent exists in a controlled team practice. This year, like every other, brings many questions to the coaching staff. When students graduate from the college, the team loses the talent and leadership of players that understand the ins and outs of the program. The team has to work out the kinks. This gives athletes a chance to hone their leadership skills and make the transition seamlessly from one season to the next while establishing an identity and winning games.
This is both the difficulty and the beauty of college sports.
This year’s transition will be especially difficult because the team must adjust to life without the playing of former team leader John Phelan, the most accomplished offensive player in school history. But Phelan hasn’t left completely. He has joined the coaching staff along with assistants John Rooney and Justin Schultz.
The new fall season looks to be one of rebuilding and establishing a team identity. The core is there but pieces must be added. It will take hard work but the Falcons appear confident they will be able to overcome these obstacles.