Taking things one pitch at a time

By Joe Thornton, reporter

Delta College baseball finished fifth on a national scale in their division last year. Beginning their season ranked ninth in the nation, there are high expectations to look forward to, yet this is an entirely different team. Being a community college, the baseball team suffers from the same turnover that all sports teams and extracurriculars at Delta College.

Unfortunately, head baseball coach Danny Smith thinks that his team has been especially hard this season.

Q: What have you found out about your team this offseason? What have you done differently?

A: We’ve found out this team is very inexperienced. We usually have sophomores that come back and can step into roles using experience from the previous year. Essentially throwing high schoolers to the wolves. To combat that, we have focused on real basics. How to get on base, how to take a pitch, how to create offense, throw first pitch strikes. We aren’t taking anything for granted.

Q: What have you tried to do, recovering from the player turnover?

A: Last year we went to world series, finished fifth in the country. While that was a great journey, it meant that our season didn’t really end until June. From a recruiting perspective, whoever we recruited by January of last year is really all that we had because we missed a majority of the high school season. We knew there wouldn’t be a great amount of experience coming back. Even the sophomores who have come back didn’t get a ton of playing time, so to adjust we have scaled back and tried to make everything very vanilla.

Fortunately, we have been able to get carried a little bit by our pitching this season, our pitching is phenomenal. Our pitchers have done a great job of keeping us in the game. Without having these great pitchers we would be struggling to win any game and they are the reason we are sitting at .500.

Q: How many pitchers are there in rotation?

A: Eleven pitchers on staff, nine active, using a five-man rotation.

Early in the season especially, games end up getting delayed due to weather, and to make those games up you end up having weeks where you’re playing eight games over four days. In those times you have to have players that are willing to step up and have pitchers that even though they weren’t usually a starter, they’re going to have to be a starter today.

In past seasons we’ve carried around 14 pitchers, but this season we’re just short.

Q: Was the spring trip a good move?

A: The weather was definitely an advantage, but other than that the tough competition we went up against. Since we were so successful last season and our preseason ranking was high, we were matched up against some of the best teams in the country. Even though we’re inexperienced, we were able to play against some of the best teams in our division, and it was a reality check.

As coaches, we are going to exercise patience. We have told our staff that we are going to take plays eight seconds at a time. We’re going to take things one day at a time instead of the seasons past where we have always shot for the thirty win mark. One of only two schools in the conference that have won 30 games and made it to the postseason for the past five years in a row. This year, it will be a struggle. Instead of getting ahead of ourselves, we need to look eight seconds at a time.

Q: What phrase best defines Delta College Baseball?

A: Nine guys named Joe. Been our moniker since we started the program in 2012, we want our guys to show up every day and forget about the name on the back of their shirt and just be a regular joe. If it means doing something that you aren’t accustomed to, to help the team, so be it. You leave your pride at the door before you step out onto the diamond. Our guys buy into that and know what it takes. Not a ton of depth. More experience.

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