Baseball team looks to make a Horizon League title run

Jonathan Savich, Staff Reporter

The baseball team’s practice was canceled on Friday, Feb. 8 due to one of the turf maintenance machines having an exhaust leak. The dome is an air-sealed bubble, so any kind of air quality issues prompts a major danger.

No one was affected by the exhaust leak and the problem has since then been addressed. The team was especially disappointed practice had to be cancelled since their season is right around the corner, and the first game is Friday, Feb. 15 against Western Carolina University. The team is coming off of a lackluster 2018 campaign; they finished last season 15-32.

However, 12 of their wins came from inter-conference games, and they finished at No. 4 in the Horizon League. Oakland also ranked last in hitting and second to last in pitching in the Horizon League, which leaves room for opportunity and growth, and co-head coach Jack Healey is optimistic.

“I think every year is a building block,” Healey said. “We’re starting on the third year [with Healey as head coach] and second recruiting class bringing in players to give us a kick-starter with our seniors that we will be depending on.”

Coach Healey expects the team to compete for a Horizon League championship with the help of senior pitcher Nick Parr. Healey said Parr brings a bag of tricks with his pitching repertoire, and he will likely be relied upon as the team ace.  Another player the team will look to rely on is senior Ryan Fitzpatrick.

In 2018, Fitzpatrick started in all 47 games in the outfield. As a senior, Fitzpatrick will be looked up to as a leader, and the same goes for this rest of this senior-heavy team. Fitzpatrick found himself as the team’s leading scorer, and he led the team with 42 runs last season.

“The goal is to get the Horizon League championship,” Fitzpatrick said. “We put in the work and on days like this [the day practice was cancelled] it makes it more difficult. We expect a lot. We want to play sound fundamental baseball. We’ve let a few things go in the past, but now things are different. Every team can improve, we can improve on hitting and pitching… we’re focusing on the little things this year.”

Due to Michigan weather and the fact the field frequently gets flooded because of the location, it’ll be some time before the team will be playing at home. Come Friday, the team will begin their usual month-long road trip. The team returns to Oakland’s campus on March 29, where they will begin Horizon League play.

Last year Wright State University took the regular season championship of the Horizon league with a record of 39-17 and a 22-6 inter conference record. The last four years, Oakland has been in the bottom half of the league. If Oakland wants to make a splash this year, they’ll have to prove it on the diamond.