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Baseball a Huge "Hit" at Mount St. Mary’s

Megan Kinsella
MSM Class of 2013

(4/2011) Citizens and students, men and women, young and old: lend me your ears! Hello there, Megan Kinsella here. I am a sophomore Communications major at the Mount and I will be covering sports for our community. Not just any sports, though… Mount sports. Yes, that’s right, I will be your source of information on upcoming soccer games, the most exciting tennis matches, latest lacrosse championships, and much more. Considering my experience as a Division 1 Cross Country and Track runner, compounded with personal relationships with my fellow athletes, I would say I have a pretty good understanding of the ins and outs of sports here on campus.

Enough with the formalities; let’s get down to business. What’s on the agenda for this month’s sports scene, you ask? Well, I thought we would start at the beginning, with America’s pastime. Spring is upon us with the summer months soon to follow. The days are getting longer. All of the snow is melting (knock on wood) and the grass is starting to grow again. The chirping of birds and droning hum of cicadas will soon be forming the soundtrack of summer evenings spent in the great outdoors. What does all of this mean? Ladies and gentlemen, baseball season is upon us.

Yes, it is that time of year again. Your kids are getting antsy for thoughts of summer vacation and your neighbor is pulling the cover off that backyard pool. Along with this, baseball is absolutely everywhere. Friendly neighborhood games are organized. Little league sign-ups are posted and the season gets under way. Minor and major league baseball games are on TV again and some are even close enough for us to go see in person. The closest professional baseball action can be found just down U.S. Route 15 with the Frederick Keys and Baltimore Orioles. Even more exciting, however, are the games played right here at the Mount St. Mary’s E.T. Straw Family Stadium, home of Mountaineer’s Baseball.

Beginning its 22nd year as a member of the Northeast Conference, this year’s baseball team’s prospects are both exciting and promising. Picked to finish sixth in the Northeast Conference by a preseason coaches’ poll, the Mountaineers are off to a good start. Throughout the fall and winter the team was hard at work getting in shape for the spring season, conditioning themselves through weightlifting, pool workouts, pilates, and even yoga . Senior starting pitcher Max Brittenham explained, "Running and being in aerobic shape is extremely important for position players and pitchers alike. Along with improving individual speed for position players, it builds strength to allow pitchers to play deep into games without getting tired."

The team’s goal this spring, as it is every year, is to win the NEC conference tournament and advance to the NCAA Regionals. The last time the team moved on to the NCAA tournament was in 2008 and the men are confident in their ability to return again this year. Brittenham, who was injured last spring, returns this season ready to lace up his spikes and take on the NEC with full force. When commenting on the teams in the NEC that will provide the Mount with their toughest competition, Brittenham said that Monmouth, Sacred Heart, and Wagner always have strong squads. Also, Central Connecticut won the conference tournament in the 2010 season, while Bryant won the regular season championship. This seems like a whole lot of hard-hitting opposition, you say? Heck no! Brittenham said, "In conferences, because the teams know each other so well, it is a very even playing field." Our guys are prepared to step up to the plate and take the challenge.

The team opened their season with a non-conference game at George Mason on March 2, where they lost in a close game. Next, the men traveled to Florida for six days over spring break to compete in the RussMatt Invitational. The last time Mount baseball made a trip to the Sunshine State was for a tournament in 2009, where they finished with a tournament record of 1 and 6. This year, they bettered their record to 2 and 3, finishing up the week with wins over Miami of Ohio and Central Florida, both proving to be very exciting victories. Against Miami, the Mount trailed 2-0 heading into the bottom of the ninth. After scoring a pair of runs to force extra innings, they rallied to score 3 runs in the tenth, sealing the hard fought victory. In their March 8th game, superb pitching sealed the deal against nationally ranked Central Florida. A combined effort of different pitchers did not allow a single run in the first six innings of play, and the Mount was victorious with two runs in the bottom of the 8th.

Next, the team traveled to Philadelphia on March 11 for more non-conference play in the Villanova Classic. Over the three day tournament, they posted a 5-1 win against Villanova and losses to Temple and St. Joseph’s University. The two losses were extremely close games, as they were both decided by a single run. Two days later, the team trekked to Princess Anne, Maryland, where they secured a pair of wins over University of Maryland Eastern Shore. "The team looks great so far," Brittenham said. "We have games where we have had great pitching and little hitting or games with great hitting and poor pitching. The important part is putting both ends together once we get to our conference games."

After eleven non-conference games, the Mountaineers played Wagner in their first conference match-up of the season, March 18-20 in Staten Island, NY. After going 2-2 against Wagner, the team advanced their overall record to 7-8. Up next for the baseball team is another non-conference game against Bucknell on Wednesday afternoon, March 23. The Mount’s home opener will take place Friday, March 25, when they face Quinnipiac in their second conference four-game set of the year.

Scott Thompson, head coach and the squad’s fearless leader for the past 14 years, has built the team into a strong, annual contender for the NEC title since his first season in 1998. In 2008, Thompson led the team to its first ever NCAA tournament appearance, a feat he and his players hope to accomplish again this year. "The injuries that we had last year were huge in us not making the tournament and we are very happy about getting those players back," he said. "Six guys were injured last season and now that they are recovered we’re really counting on them for the 2011 season."

His expectations for the team in 2011 are very high and he is confident that, with the return of injured upperclassmen and support from freshmen and sophomores, his team is a strong contender for the NEC championship title. "We’re very deep offensively with 12 or 13 players that we can go to and feel very comfortable with, and on the mound we are more solid than ever."

In addition to the Quinnipiac match-up the weekend of March 15th, the Mountaineers will play 17 more games at home, in the friendly atmosphere of the newly revamped Straw Family Stadium. Conference opponents coming to the Mount to take on our heroic squad include Fairleigh Dickenson from April 1 through the 3rd, Sacred Heart April 21st through the 23rd, and a final four game series against Monmouth from May 13th through the 15th. A more detailed game schedule can be found online at While you’re at it, be sure to check out the Women’s Softball team schedule and keep your eyes open for next month’s sports scene article.

The timeless image of Uncle Sam on a famous WWI recruitment poster is patriotic and motivating. "I want you for the U.S. Army. Enlist now." Consider this my own personal call to action. Whether you are the parent of a little-leaguer, energetic Mount student, fine citizen of Emmitsburg, or a baseball fanatic in general, the Mount baseball team wants YOU! With exciting baseball action just five minutes away from home, there is no need to travel all the way to Frederick or Baltimore. The personal setting, low cost (it’s free!), and pure entertainment provided by Mount Baseball is something you just don’t want to pass up. "At Mount games, you know every player and have easy access to autographs and phone numbers," Brittenham said. "It’s right across the street, it’s free, and we promise that every time out we will give you 110 percent."

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