By Nick Abate
Just two years removed from their World Series bid, the Suffolk Baseball team gears up for another year with high expectations. A Championship run is the annual goal for this team, as they try to push further than just a first round exit like last season.
Just one game away from making another run at the World Series, the Sharks lost their regional final to Nassau Community College 14-6, giving the Suffolk its worst loss that whole season. But that loss is way behind the players and Head Coach Eric Brown, has had this team working hard since the fall of this year.
Coach can only do so much during the off season and its up to players like outfielder Joe Deland, a 2nd-year player under Brown. “This being my last year at Suffolk, I really took leadership this season and made sure our new players had the same mindset as I do and some of the veteran players did for me when I was a new to the team.”
The Sharks opens up on the road to Monroe College, which all players are excited for being is that the Sharks lost the only meeting to Monroe 16-11. “We really want this game, not just because who it is, but it would be a great way to start the season. Plus, we face them three times this year so, there will obviously be motivation to make a statement in those three meetings” said pitcher Joe Murphy.
The Sharks struggled throughout the early part of March last year, as they started the 2015 season 0-6, and hope to not repeat that this season. “We got into trouble early lost our first six but the coaches didn’t panic, which didn’t put any pressure on us players” said Deland. “I think we definitely benefit from great coaching because not many teams are going to start as poorly as we did and still be a game away from the Series.”
Deland was Suffolk’s best hitter last season posting a batting average of .315 and also had 21 RBI’s which is a team best in both category’s last season. “First thing I realized was, I had been seeing the ball well when I was hitting early in the season and you anticipate slumps throughout the season because no one is perfect. But I didn’t skip a beat and played pretty well.” After performing at such a high level, Deland looks to be even better this time around as he sets the bar higher for himself. “You have to motivate yourself it you want to be really great at something. I try to do something better each year that’s the goal. That’s the only way to progress and get better; challenge yourself to new things.