Grit, skill, chemistry equal winning combo for baseball

Senior captain Nick Johnson has been integral to the Brewers throughout his career. He and the team hold tremendous chemistry that, in addition to their talent, will carry them far this season. Photo courtesy of Vassar College Athletics

Tough. Tight. Talented.

The Vassar men’s baseball team has launched into their spring season with the Lib­erty Leagues in its mind. “We have out-worked everybody during the offseason and we are off to a nice start to show for it,” said senior captain Brooks English. After coming back from a spring break trip to Florida, and having a few games since then, Vassar currently stands at 9-9 overall and 5-3 in the Liberty League.

Coming off a very strong season, this year’s squad is defining themselves as a tough com­petitor out on the field. The team is lead by Coach Jon Martin. Martin, the all-time winnin­gest baseball coach in Vassar history, has been able to construct a program that has not only produced over 30 All-Liberty League selections, but compete in the Liberty League Champion­ship Tournament for the first time in program history. Martin comes with experience of being a collegiate baseball player himself. He takes his expertise and methodologies and funnels it and his passion into the Vassar team. “I’m competi­tive. I want to win, and it’s important to me that my players feel what it’s like to work and prepare for something you want,“ said Coach Martin, “We will compete with every team we play. We have 40 games scheduled, already having played 18 and we all want to be competitive and have opportunities to win every game.”

A key part of the Brewers’ success is the team harmony. This is greatly thanks to the leader­ship this year. “I love this year’s team because everyone is extremely close. We all love hanging out together, and it makes the season even more enjoyable,” said senior captain Nick Johnson. This sentiment is echoed by many players on the team. “I’d say our team is the closest group of guys on campus, and our team chemistry is really unrivaled,” explained English. This can be attributed to this year’s senior leadership. There are four captains and seven seniors overall us­ing their experience from previous years on the team to optimize team chemistry. “As one of the captains this year, my job has been very easy. Everyone on the team is driven to improve everyday, and they all understand our goals and what it takes to accomplish these,” said Johnson. Senior pitcher Jonathan Hong added, “We also have great leadership on the team and I think that the chemistry in the dugout and on the field is better than it’s ever been.” Sophomore Eric Strickland noticed the same tightness of the team as an underclassman, saying, “My fa­vorite thing about the team is how close all of the guys are. Everyone on the team always has each others back, which is not true about every team. It is easy to see how much closer of a unit we are compared to the teams we are playing sometimes. I would not want to be out there playing with any other group of guys.” Coach Martin also praised the good nature of his team, continuing: “Our senior class has done a great job leading by example and keeping a loose, but focused atmosphere. The seniors have been part of a successful culture since they’ve been here. Their expectations are high. I look for that en­tire class to lead this team and reach the bar that we’ve set.”

The team is currently focused on getting to Liberty Leagues and is hunkering down for post-season play. On the near future, Johnson said, “Ultimately, we want to win the league, but the first step for that is finishing in the top four and going to playoffs.” As for both a long-term and personal goal, English said, “My only goal for the season is to get back to the liberty league playoffs. As a senior, there would be no better feeling of winning the league in my last season. My freshman and sophomore year we had great runs in the playoffs, and to get back to that point is really the only goal.” Hong is confident in the team mentioning explaining, “Our goal this year is to make it back to the Liberty League playoffs and of my four years here, I think this is the team to win it.”

It is a combination of this tremendous chem­istry and a plethora of talent that will carry the Brewers towards their goal. Many members of the team are aware of the team’s potential. Strick­land noted, “We have a great group of guys this year, we all know how much potential we have.” Hong added, “We have very strong pitching with a more than capable bullpen and a lineup that has few if not any holes in it.” The challenge is to utilize the talent on the team and to persist.

Across the team, all agree that the main qual­ity of their game they need to persevere at is the psychological one. Responding to what his team will be working on this season, Coach Martin said, “Playing the game with intensity and pas­sion. Fulfilling individual roles on the field. Roll­ing with the punches.”

Strickland also spoke to this ability to take the good with the bad. He expanded, “Our motto this year is being able to bounce back from ad­versity. We are going to be the toughest team on the field in every game we play. A lot of games will be won this year by being tough. Persistence is key to the team’s success this season.“

During the year, the team is always working to improve everyday at practice. Baseball has a really long season, so it’s always important to avoid lulls and constantly work towards getting better,” says Johnson. Agreeing with a fellow captain, English also mentions that it is not a game to game but an everyday attitude that will get them to the end goal.“I think the biggest thing for us is consistency. We are as talented as any other team in the league, the most important thing is for us to show up everyday with full ef­fort and focus and perform like we can.” From all members, this squad truly sounds like the team to be on.

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