By Harrison Kelly
Baseball is officially back at Berry Allen Field as the Pride look to improve from their 2016 campaign. With an overall record of 12-21-1, fans expect, to see a motivated team ready to prove themselves as a formidable player in the NEWMAC standings.
The 2016 team lacked arguably the two most important qualities, pitching and defense. Coach Simeone, who will be coaching his 22nd year at Springfield, expects his younger players to take the next step and contribute big this year.
Sophomore transfer Brandon Russo will play his first year in a Springfield College uniform, and sports excellent defense at shortstop. Russo also has a bat too, earning conference and regional baseball weekly honors after hitting at a .520 clip (13-25) during the Pride’s spring trip to Florida.
Fans should also be excited to see the power bat of junior Logan Barrett brings to the table. While senior designated hitters Mike Jamieson and JP Peters will have their shots, Barrett looks to take full advantage of the DH spot opening and send some baseballs onto Wilbraham Avenue. “So far I’ve had a really great start to the season,” he said. “Down in Florida, I was hitting well, and the coaches took notice. I’m ready to start the season and help this team out.”
Second year southpaw pitcher Brian Johnson is already off to an impressive start after throwing a no-hitter at Lake Myrtle Park. From perspective, the last Springfield pitcher to throw a no-hitter was Kevin Cahill in 2001, and he was later inducted into the Springfield College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013. With a high 80’s fastball and an equally as impressive curveball, expectations are high for Johnson.
Ken Manero, a three-year pitcher, and one of the rocks on the pitching rotation shared some thoughts on the team.
Manero believes there has been a change of culture this year within the team. “Every year the culture changes, we lose certain guys, but so far, the new guys have created something we didn’t have last year,” he said. “There’s a buzz, a certain sense of resiliency.”
As far as leadership goes, Manero isn’t concerned about one or two leaders to emerge. Instead of chosen leaders, Simeone expects everyone to work towards a similar goal. “Everyone has stepped up at least once and has contributed. We all have each other backs, and when someone wants to say something, we feel comfortable enough to speak,” said Manero.
The Pride travelled down to Florida for their annual Spring Break trip, and improvements have already been visible from last year. “We have a hard-nosed team, and guys are a lot more confident last year,” said Manero. “We lacked aggressiveness last year. We have a lot more swagger this year.”
The goals for Springfield this year don’t vary much from most programs, but they have something to prove. The Pride know they’re better than the record they earned last year. Manero said, “We have a list of goals in the locker room. First of all, we want to be over .500. Then win the division, make the NEWMAC playoffs, and square off against the best competition. We will win more games this year. Win however possible.”
With games on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, the season is off to a busy start. The Pride looks to continue their on-field success in Springfield. Come support the team at home against Babson on Sunday.