Up here in the North Country, the closest resemblance you can see to the white cover of a baseball is the snow that blankets the landscape. However, this did not stop the Plattsburgh State baseball team from getting a leg up on their upcoming season.
The Cardinals got an early start to the preseason this year when they were able to take the field in February playing in Fredicksburg, Virginia, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to start the season 3-3.
Both the coaches and the players felt fortunate to have this opportunity due to the complications of the harsh winter.
“This was huge for our position players,” assistant coach Brian Burns said. “They were able to do more game-like drills, and playing outside allows for more of a baseball atmosphere, which goes a long way.”
Not only did the ability to play outside benefit the team internally, but it also allowed the Cards to get a head start on the rest of the conference.
“We were the only SUNYAC team able to play on a field this pre-season,” head coach Kris Doorey said. “Other teams had made different pre-season plans, which ended up hurting them due to snow.”
The extra practice time the Cards received is well-needed because, just like every other team, they are in the process of rebuilding. Every year, a team will lose players to graduation or injury, and PSUC is no exception. As of right now, there is a three-way battle for the second base position between freshman Jack Tolosky, sophomore Zach Hieb and junior Ryan Sarena, where all players involved are pushing each other to get better.
One of the major roles they need to fill is the absence of their national Gold Glove third basemen, Yuya Osawa, who graduated last year. Senior Matt Krogh will look to replace Osawa this season, and the coaches are confident in him filling the position.
“He’s a very solid defensive player,” Doorey said. “He’s got a lot of experience and, at this point in the season, it’s his spot to lose.”
Despite losing key players such as Osawa, the Cards still have a more- than-productive team.
TJ Montalbano, a sophomore outfielder, has recently stood out on the 29-man deep roster. This past week, he was named SUNYAC Player of the Week, and the coaching staff is excited to see what he will do this season.
“He’s going to be a very consistent hitter,” Burns said. “I’m excited to see him make a name for himself in this conference.”
In regards to the bullpen rookie right-hander Mitch Crispens has high hopes for him and his fellow hurlers.
“The bullpen’s looking strong and, most importantly, deep this year,” Crispens said. “This is going to allow us to have a lot of backup for our starters.”
The conference looks strong this year, with Cortland being the team to beat. However, the Cards are confident that, with 10 returning seniors, they will be strong competition for any team they face.
Leadership has been a concern in recent years, Burns said, but he is confident the vocal dominance of Nick Lupo and Mike Vargues will prove to be crucial.
Doorey also said leadership will be a key facet of the team’s success this year.
“Leadership is key, but it’s not limited to the seniors,” Doorey said. “We’ve got 29 guys working together to find a way for this team to mesh well.”
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