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MNU baseball looks to complete ‘unfinished business’

Sports
By Savanna Bottles
Feb 14, 2017

Head coach Ryan Thompson said that key returning players are expected to be a strength of the team that the Pioneers need in order to make a run at the conference.

“We are setting out to compete at the highest level at our conference nationally [and] we feel like we have enough returners to have a chance to do that,” Thompson said.

Thompson also said that the team’s pitching depth was the Achilles’ heel for the team last season. He said that he sees this year’s deeper staff as a major improvement to the Pioneers’ roster makeup.

Zach Stinnett throws a pitch against Benedictine in 2016. Stinnett is a returning senior, poised to play a major role in the Pioneers’ quest to get to nationals. Photo by Jim Smith.Zach Stinnett throws a pitch against Benedictine in 2016. Stinnett is a returning senior, poised to play a major role in the Pioneers’ quest to get to nationals. Photo by Jim Smith.

“Our pitching depth is significantly better,” Thompson said. “It’s going to be an improvement. [Zach Stinnett] had a great pre-season [and] we’re really excited about him and where he’s at and we’ve had several other pitchers as well that have been doing well.”

Senior pitcher Zach Stinnett said that he expects the Pioneers to have a good year and that he is hopeful that MNU will make a run in the postseason.

“I think we’re more motivated this year after getting left out of the nationals [last season],” Stinnett said. “That left a chip on our shoulder, and we feel like we have unfinished business this year.”

Jordan Dailey, a junior transfer, followed the team last season and said he can see the contrast between this season and last.

“We have a lot more pitching this year as far as our pitching staff, and the coach recruited a lot more,” Dailey said. “For the season we should definitely go pretty far with the same position players coming back.”

Clayton Brandt, MNU graduate and new assistant coach, said that he has seen all positives on the field so far.

“We have a lot of returners from last year’s roster,” Brandt said. “Last year offensively the team had a lot of good numbers. We’ve got Jason Jones back who set the homerun record, and we’ve also got good depth on the mound for pitching.”

Thompson said that the team’s expectations are higher than they were last year because of the certainty of so many returning players, and the weaknesses seen last season have turned into strengths for this year.

“We do have a very difficult schedule that’s going to challenge us right from the beginning,” Thompson said. “The only way you can get better is to start playing games and see where you stand and make adjustments and see which players are going to have success.”

Around the rest of the conference, Thompson said there are several teams that the Pioneers are looking out for.

“Our conference is going to be very competitive so I don’t think there’s just one team we’re looking out for as much as we know that it’s going to be a grind every weekend it’s gonna be a challenge and and a test.”

Thompson said that the Pioneers have lofty expectations for the season as a whole, but the team needs to focus on a particular mindset as they prepare throughout the year.

“We want want to have a chance to win every game we play [and] we want to compete at the top of our conference,” Thompson said. “We also want to compete the right way. We want to bring God glory in everything we do: how we play, how we prepare. It’s important not only to win, but to win the right way.”

Savanna Bottles

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Savanna Bottles is a student at MidAmerica Nazarene University and a reporter for The Trailblazer.

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