By Anthony Lewis, Staff Writer
Spring is just around the corner, and at UMF, that means anticipation of the spring season for Beaver sports is higher than ever. In the coming months, UMF’s spring teams are warming up and working out the kinks of the offseason, with baseball and lacrosse leading the way into what promises to be an entertaining semester.
Both the baseball and lacrosse teams are following a blustering 2015 season; baseball is coming off a 17-20 year with only five wins at home, and lacrosse is trying to move past the last year when they were unable to come up with a single win. In spite of past disappointments, both Jim Dock and Chris Bessey, head coaches of lacrosse and baseball, respectively, are confident in the competitiveness of their teams moving into the new season.
“While we played some great games last season, we were unable to chalk one up in the win column, so that’s first and foremost in our minds,” said Dock in an email. “This team is primed to do great things this spring.” Dock mentioned that he and the coaching staff “have been very impressed” with what they’ve seen in practice. “Our returning players are stepping up and helping the new players fit right in… so that has a huge impact on how we play.”
Chris Bessey said the team looks energetic and fit to compete early on, with a whopping 21 returning players on a roster of 23.
“Practices are going really well. We started in January, which is a lot sooner than we have ever started,” said Bessey. “It gives us a great chance to get our pitcher’s arms conditioned for the very busy spring, and the position players in better condition going into the season.”
When asked what the most important change he’d like to make between this season and the last, Bessey put an emphasis on team health and smart play.
“Stay healthy. We battled a few key injuries during last season, so we never felt we were at 100% at all last year,” he said. “If we stay healthy, we can be even more successful this year.” Coach Dock expressed a similar interest in keeping his roster healthy and full. “Overall, our numbers are up from last season,” Dock said. “The additional players will add depth to our team, which allows us to be more competitive.”
Dock’s positive attitude is evident both on the field and in the locker room. His players like and respect him, and their positive message reflects his coaching style. Sophomore Chase Rerrick says he’s confident in the team’s ability to rise to this season’s challenge.
“I’d like to see the team grow as a whole,” said Rerrick, glancing over the team’s schedule on the table before him. “I like what we’re seeing now in practices; we’re all working really hard.” Rerrick believes the team is unified behind one simple message, cultivated and spread by Coach Dock: bring home a win. “We’re definitely focusing on racking up some wins, since we couldn’t manage any last season.”
UMF track and field is also preparing to outplay and outperform the competition in the coming season. The team has been practicing since early February, and is slated to participate in its first meet on March 26th, at the Bridgewater State Invitational in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Although coach Dan Campbell could not be reached for comment, one imagines he would express familiar confidence in his group of players, who represented UMF valiantly at five statewide meets last fall.
UMF’s baseball team will play its first game on Saturday, March 19, at Fisher College, and its first home game on Tuesday, April 12, against UMaine Presque Isle. UMF lacrosse will play its first game on Wednesday, March 2, at Saint Joseph’s, and its first home game on Saturday, April 2, against Castleton.