By Lauren Mullen, Staff Writer
After months of patiently waiting for the snow to melt, the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) baseball team has begun their season with determination.
Last season, the boys ended 8-28, and 7-16 in the North Atlantic Conference (NAC). Ian McAlister, a junior on the team, feels that the team has higher expectations for themselves this season. “We are more prepared, determined and just overall feeling good about the team,” said McAlister. “When people ask me how the team is looking, I say the same answer every time…we have depth. We have more relief pitchers and starting pitchers.”
As a spring sport, it is always difficult for teams to get in practice time due to Maine winter weather. As Dale Winchenbach, a senior on the team, begins his 4th season with the beavers, he feels as though the team took more time than ever to prepare in the off-season and pre-season. “Hitting the weight room was a big step for this program,” said Winchenbach. “We also started training earlier than we have in the past years I’ve been here, so that’s going to hopefully help a lot in the long run as well.”
One of the toughest parts about college baseball is losing key players every year due to graduation. Luckily, the team only lost two seniors last May. Brandon Gallagher, also known as “Big Cat,” was a starting pitcher who graduated last May. “We will miss him a lot during big games,” said McAlister. “Luckily he’s now the assistant coach and works mainly with pitching.”
Overall, even with the loss of a couple key players, the beavers have a good outlook on their season. “The team is much older than it was last year. The incoming freshman also look like they will be able to contribute early on, and that will be huge for us,” said Winchenbach. “The combination of those two things will hopefully lead to some good outcomes this season.”
Not only do the boys act like family on the field, they are also great friends off the field. “This year more than ever the chemistry within the team off the field is great,” said Winchenbach. “I can really see it transferring and making an impact during games this season.”
The beavers always look forward to playing Thomas College, one of their biggest rivals in the NAC. “They are not the best team in the conference but we always seem to want to beat them badly because we know we can be a better team than them,” said McAlister. “Since NAC wins are big, every team we face in the NAC is a must win to better our chances for a playoff berth.”
If anyone is interested in attending UMF baseball games this spring, their schedule can be found on http://athletics.umf.maine.edu/sports/bsb/index.