Baseball team hopes off-season work and new attitude can improve on last year

As a member of the Norwich baseball team, Chris Davis knows that in order for the team to be successful this year, they have to be gritty and really grind it out this season.

The team has to do the little things right and make the simple plays out on the field and take the season one game at a time – and everyone has to do their part to contribute.

“Baseball is a rhythm game, and its players are those of habit so we kind of fall into a routine that helps us prepare and compete,” said Davis, a 20-year-old junior and pitcher from South Berwick, Maine.

Some of the struggles the team faced last year came from people not knowing their roles or what was expected from them, Davis said. “On any given day there could be position changes or lineup changes with really no explanation,” he said.

He sees a difference this year that gives him hope of a turnaround, despite the youth and lack of collegiate experience by much of the pitching rotation.

“Jake Ryan, our senior captain, is the ace of our staff with the most in-game experience out of our small group,” he said, but he also see promise for the rest of the pitchers. “Nick Landis, Jon Grasso, and Tanner Raymond round out our rotation and have their own strengths and weaknesses that they bring to the table,” Davis said.

But where he also draws some optimism is from the competitive drive that the pitchers have, which he thinks gives the team the best chance to win when they take the mound.

“Our bullpen is young, and we all have our roles, it might be to close a certain game, get a big out or simply bridge from the starter to the closer,” Davis said.

The pitching staff is a tight-knit group that supports each other and picks each other up when they’re down said Davis. “That’s all we can do for now.”

The team began the season with its annual spring break play down in Florida, tallying a 2-8 record with several doubleheaders squeezed into seven days of games. Weather permitting the team begins its season up north Saturday, March 23, at Suffolk University in Boston.

“A lot of the guys have put work in during the off season with lifting and practicing on the field or in Shapiro when we can to work out any specifics, we need to straighten out so it’s certainly important to prepare us for the upcoming games,” said pitcher Thomas Walz, a 19-year-old junior from Fort Worth, Texas.

Keeping up enthusiasm and picking each other up will be huge for the team this year, Walz believes. “We’ve done a lot of work on turning things around with practices this year so as long as we maintain our intensity, we should be fine,” he stated.
“Training and staying in shape is crucial as you essentially put money in the bank every time you practice or workout,” said Chris Dayos, 20, a junior infielder from Temecula, Calif.
It’s during the games when the teams can cash those checks and get a win as a reward, Dayos explained. He also emphasized that coach Frank Pecora wants the team to really trust the process this year.

“We always have to believe we’re the best team and when times get tough, we have to be bulldogs on the field and take care of business, like a Mamba Mentality,” Dayos said.

For Davis, another hoped for improvement is in batting. “Our hitters are really developed and mature and understand what they are capable of and how they fit into the flow of our offense,” he said.

“We’re so strong that it’s hard to nail down our best nine guys to send out there day in and day out, there are at least 11 or 12 guys that could be everyday lineup guys and make an impact for this team,” Davis said.

The team captains are seniors Mike Lesco, Jake Barlow, and Jake Ryan, but leadership includes other seniors as well. “This team runs deep with leadership. Kevin Lynch leads our outfielders and Chris Leach is a huge help to the two freshman catchers we have,” said Davis.

Davis said that Pecora wants the team to buy into the idea that they are underdogs. “We have to grind out games,” Davis said.
“We are extremely talented group that just needs to buy into the idea that we can win games this year, but we’re never going to be able to rely on one part of the team to win every game,” Davis said.

“Each part of our team will have their moments and be able to carry this team to wins and it’s just going to be doing that day in and day out,” Davis said.

The conference this year has been expanded to add another team in Colby-Sawyer to bring the GNAC to nine teams “Our biggest games this year are always against Suffolk, Saint Joes, Lasell, and JWU,” Davis said.

“They always field excellent teams and year in and year out they find themselves in the playoffs, they are a true test for where we are as a team,” Davis said.

A goal this year for the team is to host a home playoff game and ultimately win. “The last two years we have made playoffs, traveled, and lost. We have been working to achieve this goal since our loss to Lasell in the playoffs last year,” stated Davis.

“We want to leave the legacy that we were determined to compete and win every game that we walk into this year,” Davis said.

Generally, it’s difficult get people to come down to the games because the weather tends to be uncooperative. “When it is nice most people find themselves studying for finals or are wrapping up their school year,” Davis said.

“Winning more games this year generates more excitement, winning excites people. So, if we win more games, I’m sure we’ll get more people to come out,” Davis stated.

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