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Play Ball: A Preview for Adelphi Baseball

By Andrew Smith

The impending spring season means that baseball is right around the corner.  The Panthers finished last season with an overall 22-25 record that ended with a loss at the hands of Le Moyne in the first round of the NE10 Championship. 

Alec Maag led the team with a .380 AVG last season and tallied 23 RBIs and four home runs. Photo by AU Athletics

Alec Maag, a graduate student, reflected on last season and how the team can build off difficult lessons learned. “Last year was tough because we underperformed what we were supposed to be. We learned that we need to stick together and play as a team even though it sounds cliche,” he said.

Maag, a catcher, posted a .380 AVG (batting average), the best on the team, and tallied 14 doubles, 23 RBIs, and four round-trippers last season. The physical education major also led the team with a .612 SLG% (slugging percentage).

Nicholas Lopez, an infielder and graduate student who has been on the team for five seasons, reflected on the disappointing season. “I think as a team, we learned that we can’t just show up and expect to beat teams. After having a number of very successful years in a row, we were definitely disappointed last year, and it was kind of a culture shock for us. I think we learned that we aren’t good enough to just show up, and that we have to keep our focus day in and day out, from practice and into games, and make sure we’re doing the little things right and focusing on the small details that make or break games.”

Gavin Graff, a junior, explained why the team was unable to perform and meet their expectations. “The lesson I learned is to have fun and relax. Last year I had a lot of command issues partly because I was putting so much pressure on myself to help the pitching staff get more innings because we had so many guys down. Overall, I think our team was coming in with very high expectations of ourselves, and we did not achieve those goals.”

However, the Panthers were able to build momentum in the stretch run of the season as they went on to sweep the regular season’s final series, which allowed them to secure their spot in the postseason. Maag propelled the offense as he tallied six hits across the four games with three RBIs, including a walk-off home run in the second game. 

“That was a huge moment for us and it showed what we can do and what we’re capable of when we’re all pulling in the same direction. And while the season ended shortly after, I believe that’s a performance we can build off of,” said Lopez.

Graff said, “I think we can definitely build on the final series of the regular season against Southern Connecticut. We swept them to give us a shot to get into the conference tournament.”        

The Panthers understood the effort and work they needed to put in the offseason to place themselves in a position to achieve their goals this spring. Maag explained, “The offseason training process is very repetitive. As baseball players, we need to focus on a lot of strength training and conditioning to come in ready for the spring.

“As a team, I think most of our pitchers came in more ready this winter and started throwing to build up arm strength earlier. Our biggest thing that we want to improve this year is our health and keeping everyone on the field.”

Nick Lopez credited the team’s strong finish to 2023 and explained how it can serve as a great building block for 2024. Photo by AU Athletics

Lopez spoke about his training process and how he wanted to attack his goals. “For me, this winter, I really put a specific focus on getting stronger and more explosive in the gym, as well as putting a strong emphasis on conditioning. Being a fifth year, I’ve had a lot of experience on how grueling our long season can be. And in other years I may have focused more on my swing and hitting, this year I wanted to really make sure my body was physically prepared to last during our 50-plus game season.” 

Graff added, “This offseason, I didn’t stop throwing like I have done the past two years. This year I feel way more ready than the past years and my arm feels as good as it has felt in a while.” 

When asked about what matchups the Panthers are looking forward to, Molloy and Southern New Hampshire was a popular answer. 

“I always look forward to the Molloy series because they’re a nearby rival and always very solid,” Maag said. “This year is interesting because our conference schedule features teams from the other side so you can be assured that we’ll be circling Southern New Hampshire on our schedule when they come to us for a double header,”

Graff said, “I always like the Molloy games since we are so close. It’s usually a good fan turnout. I’m also really excited about going down to North Carolina and playing at the USA baseball complex. I also really look forward to playing Franklin Pierce and SNHU. They are some outstanding teams.”

Maag said that they believe in the guys on the team “and how this team gets along. So, we all believe the sky is limited by how much youth and energy we have here. We want the conference championship, a regional bid, and a trip to the College World Series. Baseball is an awesome sport where any team can win, and there’s no reason we can’t achieve that with our personnel.” 

Lopez added, “We love the support, especially from fellow students. So please come to as many home games as possible.” 

Mark your calendar and come out to Motamed Field to support our Panthers as they look forward to getting back on track in 2024. 

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