Baseball searching for stamina in upcoming season

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Oakland baseball team starts pre-season with a game on Feb. 19. 

Katlynn Emaus

Three Golden Grizzlies were honored with being selected to Horizon League Preseason All-Conference Teams on Saturday at the team’s First Pitch Banquet, which welcomes the 2016 season. Tyler Pagano was named to the First Team, while Mike Brosseau and Ian Yetsko were named to the Second Team.

Head coach John Musachio is pleased to have the three named on All-Conference Teams, but he is also looking at the larger picture: the upcoming season.

“It shows respect and recognizes the ability of some of our guys,” Musachio said, “but to me, pre-season means nothing. It is nice, but we have to keep our humility with that and work to earn the post-season honors.”

Playing a complete game was one of the team’s weaknesses last year, according the Musachio. Some games, the team hit well but lacked in another area. They had difficulty “putting it all together,” he said.

“I think some of it was youth and inexperience and I think some of it was some guys didn’t play to the level we expected them to play,” Musachio said. “There is a million reasons for it but I think that last year’s experience has really molded the mindset for this year’s team and I think we are going to use that to become a better club this year.”

Leadership is the main strength of Oakland baseball, Musachio said. The upperclassmen “have been hungry all year” and have experience under their belt.

“They understand the sacrifices that it takes to win mentally, emotionally, and physically,” Musachio said. “They understand the importance. [Those are] the biggest strengths. We have guys that can pitch, guys that can swing the bat and guys that can pick it up and throw it across, but to me that’s all for naught if you don’t have that leadership, that glue that keeps everyone together.”

Oakland plays some west-coast teams this year. They’re looking at this as an opportunity to compete against teams they haven’t seen before and also to help build team camaraderie.

“It’s a 56 game season,” Musachio said. “People are counting down for the trip, but that is just the beginning, we are going to keep getting better and keep growing as a team and keep improving.”

Senior Ian Yetsko said the 56-game season is one of the most difficult things about the sport.

“We just need to keep mentally tough,” Yetsko said. “It is a very long season, so you just have to stay within yourself each and every day, each and every game. Stick to your routine because there [are] going to be ups and downs, especially with the game of baseball. Come ready to play every day because it’s a new day.”

The team has been training since move-in last fall. A strength coach has been training them to help them “keep their legs” during the game, he said. They’ve been hitting a lot, and some players even put in extra hours outside of practice to improve their batting.

Yetsko said the team motto for this year is “Finish.”

“Especially late in games last year, I’m not sure if we got tired and fell off, but we lost some leads we had going into the later parts of games,” he said. “So I think if we focus on finishing strong throughout the game and playing the nine, that will be the best way about going about our season.”

Musachio and Yetsko both see the potential the team holds for this upcoming season.

“I think that there are a lot of guys on this team who peaked at the right time,” Musachio said. “They are hitting strides at the right time, their strength is there, and they are maturing and learning how to compete at high levels. I think that will correlate to wins.”