By, Maddie Mulkigian, Staff Writer
After a frustrating 2021 season and a devastating pair of losses to Fairfield in the conference playoffs, the Manhattan College baseball team is back and motivated to take over the MAAC. With four new freshmen and eight transfers, the Jaspers spent the past nine months rebuilding their team culture and preparing to overcome their challenging 2022 schedule.
The end of the 2021 season left a sour taste in each returning player’s mouth as they looked ahead to their opening weekend against Notre Dame, the University of Delaware, and Stetson University.
“I know for me personally, in comparison to last year I’ve been very motivated to be the best version of myself on and off the field because I’ve got my teammates picking me up nonstop,” sophomore Trevor Santos said. “We’re just a different team and it really motivates me to do better and become the best player I can possibly be.”
While the Jaspers struggled to find their footing against #13 ranked Notre Dame with a final of 17-2, the team quickly bounced back to exhibit their grit and resilience the very next day against the University of Delaware. With an 11-1 win against Delaware and a close-matched 6-4 loss to Stetson, the team returned home to the Bronx with their heads held high. The results of the team’s opening weekend indicated that the newcomers and the returning players were meshing well together.
“It’s no secret that we lost a lot of production in our lineup, but I think that we brought in the right amount of guys, the right amount of pitchers and freshmen to fill the holes that we were missing,” fifth-year catcher Matt Padre said. “I think that the one thing that we were missing last year was that culture and that teamwork aspect. I think that’s the biggest thing, me being the only one returning from my group, I think the goal was to create an environment where everyone felt welcomed and could be themselves.”
The leadership from the returning players and the excitement from the transfers and freshmen is creating a team dynamic that has been lacking in years prior. With a positive and productive team culture, the Jaspers are feeling a shift in how the team is approaching the 2022 season.
“Just from a transfer perspective, this is my third school so far and I’ve never really been on a team that’s this close. We’re very on each other in a productive way,” graduate transfer and outfielder Harrison Treble said. “We hold each other to a certain standard because that’s the culture that we created this year. Honestly, just from a social perspective, I’m friends with a lot more of my teammates than I have been on previous teams because every guy cares about winning and cares about you.”
Despite the team culture’s transformation since last spring, the Jaspers are struggling to put together a successful nine innings since their victory over the University of Delaware. In each of their games since their trip to Florida, they have competed to the very last inning, but they are not getting the results that they hoped for in preparation for this season.
“Any game is an important game. But for us as a team, we’re still figuring things out and putting pieces together. I think the main thing for us is to just stay confident in our approach and just represent who we are as a team,” said Treble. “We know we’re better than how we’re performing right now and we feel that we’re better than a lot of the teams we’ve played so far, but we haven’t been able to put it together.”
Despite the team’s five-game losing streak, the Jaspers remain confident in their ability to stay focused and turn things around before they begin conference play against Canisius in three weeks. Each player recognizes the talent, grit, and motivation within each teammate, but they also realize that they need to start getting results quickly.
“We have enough and everyone will say that we have enough. But it’s one thing to say it and it’s another thing to do, so it’s just a matter of doing,” Padre said. “I think it starts now and hopefully we can get the ball rolling.”
Whether or not the Jaspers will be able to turn their season around, the team will remain positive and supportive of one another. With the first MAAC game against Canisius looming in the near future, the Jaspers are itching to get their winning streak going just in time to dominate the conference.