The Trojan baseball team has kicked off the 2017 season in hopes of building off last year’s success where they finished Third in the conference behind nationally ranked Bellevue and Jamestown. Times have certainly changed within the team as they saw coaches Eric and Scott Hortness leave and welcomed Interim Head Coach Geofff Schaab and Assistant Coach Brady Banse. The team had been picked to finish sixth in the Conference Preseason Coaches Poll. Coach Schaab stated before the season, “We like the foundation we have in place, and we look to compete in our non-conference schedule and in this conference.”
Junior Connor Nagel looks forward to a new role along with the opportunity to carry over momentum from last season, “The schedule is in our favor this year. Last year we had a good team and did some things that people didn’t think we could do, so this year there’s a little more to prove.” He continued, “We have a different group of guys but that doesn’t change our mentality or our goals.”
The baseball team began their journey down in Tucson, Arizona for the second straight year as they played Grand View University on March 6 at the Kino Sports Complex, former spring training home of the Chicago White Sox and the Arizona Diamondbacks. They opened the season with two losses and would continue that trend the rest of the trip. They would take on Division 2 schools St. Cloud State (MN), and Southwest Minnesota State (MN), along with NAIA school Northwestern (IA). The Trojan baseball team came back to Madison with a record of 0-6. They were led by the pitching of Junior Garrison Collier, Sophomore David Kirby, and Freshmen Hayden Rainey, Trey Randel, and Justin Mettling. The offense was led by Smith Kemmper, Dyshawn Proudlove, and Jalen Boyd.
The Trojans returned March 13 and took some time off before heading to Sioux City, Iowa to take on Briar Cliff University. The Trojans would put up a fight but ultimately lose the two game set, pushing their record to 0-8. This past weekend kicked off the Trojans favorable conference schedule against Viterbo (WI). The Trojans found their first win of the season and Coach Schaab’s first career win in the first game Saturday, beating the V-Hawks 5-0. They couldn’t carry over the success from the first game however, as they would lose the next three games of the weekend to walk out of their first conference weekend at 1-11 (1-3). The Trojans will head to Forest City, Iowa this upcoming weekend to take on Waldorf in what will mark the last conference road series of the season. The team will spend their next 12 conference games at Flynn Field in Madison before traveling to South Dakota State. They will then return home to finish up their season against Presentation (SD).
At the conclusion of the season the team hopes to find themselves in either Valley City, North Dakota, or Jamestown, North Dakota for the conference tournament. Sophomore Dyshawn Proudlove thinks the conference tournament is reachable, “We started off to a slow start, but the season is still early and we have a long way to go. I think that we can get there. It’s just going to take a little bit of time.”
The team is led in the early season by Jalen Boyd, who leads the team in hits and a .400 batting average. Jalen, along with Smith Kemmper, lead the team with 14 hits. Garrett Mullins leads the team in Runs Batted In. The pitching staff is led by Hayden Rainey with a team low Earned Run Average of 4.97, and David Kirby who leads the team with 13 strikeouts. The Trojans home opener is set for April 8 when they host number 8 ranked Bellevue University at Flynn Field, located at SW 8th Street & S. Egan Avenue.