“After failing to qualify for the Mid-America Conference tournament last season, the University of Akron’s baseball team is ready to make some noise and win a championship. None of us have played for a championship before and it’s going to take everybody to get the job done, senior captain Brian Kordal said.””
After failing to qualify for the Mid-America Conference tournament last season, the University of Akron’s baseball team is ready to make some noise and win a championship.
None of us have played for a championship before and it’s going to take everybody to get the job done, senior captain Brian Kordal said.
But before they can worry about a championship game, they need to worry about the regular season, that included their opening series in Fort Myers, Fla. against the University of Minnesota Friday. The team saw a few good things out of the 1-2 start to the season.
Overall I felt like, especially days two and three, we pitched very well, head coach Pat Bangtson said. Defensively, I felt like we played well enough to win most of the time throughout the year.
The captains had their own thoughts on the game.
We played pretty hard all weekend. Our offense kind of struggled but our pitching pitched really well, captain Kevin Haas said.
One pitcher who held his ground was junior Ben Danziger, who pitched a complete game Sunday lost after a walk-off home run.
I just came out and threw as many strikes as I could early in the count as I could, Danziger said. I left a pitch up and he hit it out. I tip my cap to him.
The Zips’ season will not get any easier as they look to face New Mexico State, Butler University and Dartmoth University, all before playing their first game at Lee Jackson Field.
We’re really focusing on hard work and coming together as a team instead of playing as individuals, senior captain Kyle Hallet said.
Kordal added this point mentioning all members of the team are friends.
This year’s team is a lot closer. In the years past there we have had a little bit of turmoil between older guys and younger guys, Kordal said.
The six returning seniors have played a big role in diminishing that turmoil.
Any championship team that I have ever been a part of has had good leadership, and this team has outstanding leadership, head coach Pat Bangtson said.
Leadership and team dynamics obviously play a large part in a team’s ability to win.
Most of the time when you get good teams that are going to win championships, it starts in the locker room. If people are not getting along in the locker room, it can transition onto the field, Kordal said.
With a solid bond between them, they can focus on the 50-plus games they have this season.
The key to winning lies in details and consistency, at least for the Zips.
(We have to) play consistent game to game every weekend. Obviously we’re not going to go out and sweep it every weekend but we have to go out and try and win every series, Danzinger said.
Hallet even mentioned maintaining a certain state of mind before and throughout each game.
We really got to make sure we have the mentality we have going into Kent (State) that we have for every MAC weekend, he said, referring to a game that requires no extra motivation to get fired up for.
While the Zips were happy to play outside after practicing indoors, they made the necessary adjustments before they take on New Mexico State this weekend.
As a pitching staff, we learned the importance of throwing strikes and not walking batters, Danziger said. The first game we lost 6-0 we had seven walks in that game.
Before the team even swung a bat this season, the MAC coaches have already wrote off the team picking them to finish fifth in the coaches’ preseason polls.
The preseason rankings are like toilet paper: you use them to go to the bathroom, to blow your nose, but it doesn’t really matter until the season’s over and the standings are set, Kordal said.
Bangtson agreed saying championships aren’t given before the season.
Regardless, there is one formula that cannot go wrong, for the most part that is.
If you play with no errors and your pitchers throw strikes, it’s pretty hard to lose that way, Kordal said.
It is a bond and optimism that the team is heading to New Mexico State with this weekend.
Most of the time, from the past years we have played, when people see Akron on their schedule from down south they are thinking this could be an easy two or three wins to start the season off with, Kordal said. We have to go in play like hell, and play like dirt bags.
It sure sounds like they are ready to make some noise after all.