By Branson Hardcastle | Reporter
Baylor club baseball is looking to exceed their second place finish in the National Club Baseball Association Gulf Coast Regional Tournament last year.
The baseball club plays in the North Conference of the Gulf Coast Region. Last year, the club finished with a 20-7 overall record while winning their conference. Playing against teams such as North Texas, Texas Tech and Southern Methodist University, Baylor has proven to be a tough team to beat as it has won its conference in back-to-back seasons.
At regionals, the club advanced to the finals to play against Texas State where they lost 19-4.
Houston junior and club president Thomas Stivala said that this year they are hoping to surpass last year’s finish and make it to the NCBA World Series in Holly Springs, N.C.
“We have the team. We have the ability. We have the people to do it. We have the coaching, depth, everything to get [to the World Series] this year,” Stivala said. “Our goal and realistic expectation is to get to the World Series. We have everything we need to get there.”
Tyler junior Josh Riegel is the club’s manager. He is both a player and the manager, and is in charge of pitching rotations, batting order, practice schedule and make most of the in-game decisions for the club. This is his first year as the manager and has already led the club to a second place finish in the Wood Wars Tournament in Euless, falling to North Texas 2-0.
Riegel said if the club wants to make it to the World Series this year, the players need to improve in one main area.
“The biggest thing we struggle with is our mindset. Personally, this is the best baseball team I have ever been on and I’m pretty lucky to be surrounded by these good players. The mentality that you have to go out there and earn it every day is something that the club struggles with,” Riegel said. “A lot of these guys have been on talented teams because they are talented players and sometimes the mentality to go out and get it is forgotten.”
Riegel said that the club has a high experience level. He compared the club to a Division III baseball team. Stivala mentioned that some members had offers from Division I and Division II schools, but turned them down to attend a larger school. Some members have attempted to walk on for Baylor baseball, but did not make the cut.
Not only is the experience level high, so is the community aspect. Stivala said that the club frequently hosts team bonding events including flag football tournaments, basketball games or playing capture the flag across campus.
The club spends at least six hours together a week because of practices Riegel said.
“Exposure with each other helps everyone grow closer. By spending so much time together, everyone eventually bonds,” Riegel said. “To start off the semester, there was definitely a gap with the new guys. If you walked in now, you would have no idea there was a gap. Everyone meshes really well. Once the new guys are in, they are like family.”
Baylor club baseball will play its next game Jan. 27 in College Station against Texas A&M Core of Cadets. Conference play will begin for Baylor Feb. 24 at home against North Texas.