After capturing the PSAC East regular season division title last year, Millersville University’s baseball team was pegged to finish fourth in the division this year.
Although it is somewhat of a disappointment to be ranked just fourth at the beginning of the year, the team is more concerned with the ranking that they can control which will play out over the course of this season.
That ranking is, of course, the final standings, which if all goes according to plan, will end with them proving to the rest of the PSAC that they, in fact, will be the team to beat again this year.
Last season the Marauders were ranked last in the preseason poll, and the team opened its season last week looking like that team that was pegged to finish last, but it was not without good reason.
Millersville played its first four games in North Carolina against UNC Pembroke and lost all four games. This, however, was after the team spent eight hours on a bus trip to North Carolina and arrived at their hotel at 2:30 in the morning and was expected to play the following afternoon at 1 p.m.
Not only was the team playing fatigued from travel, they also were going against a team that had been practicing outside all year in the warm weather of the South and also had two more weeks of games under their belts opposed to Marauders who were just opening season.
“There is quite a difference [when playing teams from the south]. We’ve been practicing in the gym because it’s cold where they have all of their practices outside,” senior Lance Miller said.
Millersville lost the first game 17-7, the following day they dropped both games of their doubleheader with scores of 13-1, and 3-2. Their weekend stay in North Carolina culminated with the team being swept after a losing score of 14-2.
“Pembroke has already been hitting and pitching [in game situations] and our pitchers still had to get their first game jitters out. They’re hitting the ball and hitting their spots with pitches while we’re still just getting acclimated,” Miller said.
Despite the circumstances with which Millersville opened their season, they were not looking to make excuses. After traveling to Virginia to square off against Virginia State, they would no longer need any.
The Marauders followed up their disappointing series against UNC Pembroke with a series sweep of their own, defeating Virginia State with scores of 8-1, 8-4, 13-2 and 10-1.
The Marauders were able to settle down and get their bats swinging and start hitting their spots with their pitches.
After a shaky start in his first outing, junior Ryan Stauffer pitched a complete game in the first outing of the series, going seven innings and yielding only one run while striking out seven.
In the third game, of the series Millersville tallied 14 hits and started the game with a seven run first inning, paving the way for an easy victory.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Marauders used five pitchers who allowed only six hits and one run while striking out seven. Their offense benefited from five errors by the opposition and capitalized on them by scoring 10 runs.
It is still early in the season, but the Marauders are improving with each game.
Their record currently stands at 4-4 and will look to improve upon that mark starting Saturday in South Carolina against Anderson University in a four game series.