What can baseball do for an encore?

The Millersville baseball team finally seems to be headed on the right track.  After winning the PSAC East division last season while also making an appearance in the PSAC championships, the Marauders seem poised to put to end an era of futility in Millersville baseball.

Under the tutelage of interim head coach Jon Shehan, the Marauders posted a 24-26 record last season, advancing to the second round of the PSAC Championships before being eliminated by Shippensburg in extra innings in the second round of the playoffs.

One year later, Shehan, the 26 year-old Millersville graduate will be looking to improve upon his already outstanding first season as the official head coach of the Marauders.  After starting last season 6-20, Millersville went on to win 16 of its last 18 meetings en route to division championship.  The team’s performance marked the first time in the history of the program that a first-year head coach won a division championship.  Shehan also set the record for the most victories for a first-year coach in school history with 24.   What makes the team’s performance last season even more unbelievable is the fact that this was a team that finished just 9-37 the year before.

“Shehan is a younger guy who was with experience in minor league baseball.  He has helped teach us what he learned, and helped the players on the team come together.  He made sure everyone was treated equal,” Senior Lance Miller said.

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Redshirt sophomore first baseman Derek Kline looks to continue putting up numbers for the Marauders this season. Photo by: Augusta Nissly.
Redshirt sophomore first baseman Derek Kline looks to continue putting up numbers for the Marauders this season. Photo by: Augusta Nissly.

This season the Marauders look to continue with the program’s progression by earning their first winning season since 2001 when they went 30-16.  Millersville will be looking to 14 returning letterwinners, six of whom are position players, to help contribute this season.  Most notable is redshirt sophomore first-baseman Derek Kline.  Kline was named the PSAC East division rookie of the year last season after batting .364 with a team-high in home runs (6), runs batted in (41), slugging percentage (.565) and runs (51).  Kline was also named “a player to watch” by the American Baseball Coaches Association.

Others who are expected to make big contributions at the plate and in the field this year include senior left-fielder Cody Wile.  Wile was named to the All-PSAC first team after hitting a team-high .366 to go with 49 hits, 3 home runs and 38 runs batted in. Miller will look to follow up a productive 2008 season in which he, along with Kline, were the only Marauders to start in all 50 of their games.  Miller finished with a .307 batting average, 48 runs and a team-high in walks (27) and on-base percentage (.476).  Miller also set the school record for being hit by pitches after being beaned a ridiculous 25 times.  Junior catcher Miles Gallagher will hold the fort behind the plate like he did much of last season, catching in 40 of the team’s 50 games.

Last season, the Marauders struggled coming out of the gates in many games, falling behind early after their starting pitching and bullpen took a few beatings.  “By the end of last season the team was down to seven pitchers, compared to this season where we have something like 12 pitchers,” Miller said.  “That’s one thing about this year I think we also have a lot more depth especially with our pitchers.”

The Marauders have the bats capable of producing lots of runs, and last year the team was 18-1 after leading in six innings. The team hopes that with a bit more consistency from the pitchers this year that they will easily eclipse the team’s production from last season.  The season begins today in North Carolina against UNC Pembroke.