This may sound like a broken record, but the Springfield College baseball team is good this year.
After enjoying a historical start to the season, the Pride has almost clinched a spot in the NEWMAC tournament for the first time since 2012. Head coach Mark Simeone has the perfect mix of talented underclassmen and seasoned upperclassmen to make a historical run.
“I think you kind of see a little shift in our culture,” sophomore outfielder Chad Shade said. “I think last year it was more of we would see a team on our schedule and say ‘oh this team is good we have to go play them.’ I think our attitude shift this year is we have the Babsons and Wheatons and they have to come play us.”
The Pittsfield, Mass. native has been a large part of the team’s success at the top of the lineup and could finish with a historic season himself. After a slow start to the season, his offense sparked during the Pride’s Spring Break trip to Florida and has not slowed down since.
Shade is among the best hitters on the team with a .327/.433/.478 slash line. He has driven in 12 runs while walking 15 times, but the most impressive stat is his NEWMAC-leading 25 stolen bases in 29 games. He’s been caught stealing just three times, making for an 89 percent success rate.
“I think the biggest difference is understanding, hitting-wise, the different type of pitchers we’re going to face,” Shade said. “What you see a lot more different from the high school level is a lot of pitchers that can use their offspeeds and throw those for strikes and use those effectively. Being able to adjust and be more aggressive earlier in the count has been really huge for me.”
With eight regular season games left, Shade is just 11 stolen bases away from tying the single-season record, held by Joseph Cervino in 1971. Tying, much less breaking a record that is almost a half century old, would be incredible, but Shade sees team success as more fulfilling.
“It’s not really something that I plan to do, nor is it something necessarily that I’m too worried about right now. The main focus is going out there and trying to win ball games, and if stealing bases is going to help do that, then that’s fantastic,” Shade said.
He does not want to take away from what the team has already accomplished this year. Entering one of the most important stretches of the season, Shade is focused solely on winning.
“Something that’s important to me is what we’ve done so far this year, and I think that going forward, being able to continue that and not let something like a record affect the way that I play. I just want to go out there and play my game, and if (breaking the record) happens in the meantime, it would be fantastic,” Shade said.
Don’t forget, Shade still plays football in the fall for Springfield. Being a one-sport athlete and excelling at the college level is already difficult, but he does that in two sports.
“Being a dual-sport athlete has been awesome for me so far. What really helps me is the coaches and the support that they give me. They allow me to do both because of the fact that they’ll work around my schedules,” Shade said on the latest episode of “Inside the Pride”.
As Springfield gears up to fight for a spot in the postseason, Shade’s history tracker is something for everyone to keep an eye on. With a slew of conference games on deck in the next couple of weeks, Shade will surely rise to the test and help lead his team to the postseason.