Consistent and fundamentally sound baseball is the key to the Golden Rams’ success in 2014.
In any sport, consistency is a major key to success. West Chester University’s head coach Jad Prachniak and team captain Fred Breidenbach preach consistency.
Last season, West Chester finished the season with a 25-24 record. Obviously, the team is not the same as it was in the 2012 season when they won the Division II National Championship. The preseason poll for the PSAC conference had the Rams at fourth in the division.
This team is still considered one of the top teams after their dramatic run at the end of last season to make it to the conference tournament.
“Going off of 2012, we were a really confident team with a lot of talent. [In] 2013, we could have played more consistently and did not have the same amount of talent. We have a lot of returning players mixed with newer players. Talent and consistency are the two biggest factors to winning the PSAC and getting to the regional,” Prachniak said about his team going into the 2014.
As the numbers show, the team really needs consistency when trailing in the later innings. The team only suffered one loss when leading after six innings. However, when trailing after the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings the Rams had only three wins and 22 losses. WCU was also out-scored by their opponents last season, with 228 runs while their opponents scored 246 times.
“It depended on the games. It was a consistency thing, we struggled at all three phases of the game, but at the same time we excelled at all three phases of the game at different points of last season. It really just gets back to consistency and being consistent with pitching, hitting, and fielding,” Prachniak said.
“Honestly, it’s not about certain people compiling stellar seasons that standout to everyone, for us it’s more about fundamental baseball, not allowing free base runners, holding runners, attacking hitters. On the offensive side it’s very similar with just always looking for extra bases and putting that constant pressure on the defense. That’s what we did in 2012 and that was the same roster as a 2011 team that didn’t make the playoffs. We will be ‘in’ as well as win plenty of games if we do that on a consistent level everyday,” Breidenbach added.
This past weekend, the team competed in the Division II spring tournament in Dinwiddie, Va. They went 2-1 with both of their wins aided by double-digit runs. “It was good, especially the last game. It was good to leave on a win and a small sample of how well we can play this year. If we compete we will win games, but if we play sloppy we will lose,” Prachniak said.
There is a lot to look forward to as their last win was an 11- 5 over the College of Saint Rose. A five-run fifth inning put the nail in the Saint Rose coffin as the Golden Rams cruised to second win of the tournament.
Junior Matt Petrizzi was the star in the game, as he went two-for-five with a home run, double, and two RBIs. “From a new face stand point, Matt Petrizzi, from judging this past weekend, he’ll play shortstop for us and get some time on the mound. He can be a difference maker,” Prachniak stated.
True freshman Robert Knox was another player Prachniak highlighted as an emerging star. Knox is a true freshman who will start right field for the Rams. He quietly went 3 for 11 over the weekend with one RBI.
When asked about incorporating younger players into the program, Breidbach said, “Just make the freshmen comfortable as they adapt to a new lifestyle in college, but also hold them accountable on and off the field as WCU baseball players.”
Consistency is defined as the correspondence or uniformity among parts of a complex thing. In other words, all parts of the WCU baseball machine need to be in unison.
When that happens, the wins will roll in, as well as the PSAC championship.
Michael Murphy is a first-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at MM802071@wcupa.edu