With just four games left in the men’s baseball season, prospects are looking uncertain at best. The men are currently ranked last in the Midwest Conference North Division with an overall record of 5 and 23 and a 4 and 8 conference standing. Only senior and captain Chad Cherny attributes this season’s struggle to “a difficulty in learning how to play together as a team, which is often the hardest quality to obtain.”Despite a rocky season, Cherny feels that the team is playing more consistently and hitting much better lately. “There has been a lot of learning for us this year, especially for the freshmen, and it has paid off. Considering the circumstances, we are staying together as team now.”
A combination of senior losses and individual injuries has forced many of the freshmen players into the starting lineup. Outfielder Zach Michael and infielder/ pitcher Morgan Boltz have responded particularly well to the pressure of their new positions.
“It was very hard to fill the shoes of some of the seniors we lost last year. For example, Chad Waller had a tremendous winning attitude. Even if the whole team felt we were going to lose, Chad would still try to win it for himself. He and other seniors like Kent Hayes are sorely missed, but everyone has stepped up very well this year,” said Cherny.
Returning players who have continued to perform well this year include pitchers Rick Herzog (junior) and Justin Anthony (sophomore). Anthony pitched a remarkable one-hitter game against Beloit College, which ranks him just seventh in the history of Lawrence men’s baseball to do so. Sophomore Jon Otto and junior Matt Smith have both hit two home runs this season as well, while sophomore Zutter has hit three home runs thus far.
One of the team’s greatest accomplishments this year was during their Oshkosh game on April 24. The Vikings played at the Fox Cities Stadium, home of the Timberattlers, in Grand Chute. The men defeated the Titans in their first game 10 to 8. UW-Oshkosh is currently ranked tenth in the nation for their division. Cherny remarks, “This sort of thing doesn’t happen very often and it felt good. Just the fact that we even got to play them was a good test for us.”
There is a possibility that the Vikings could still place into the conference tournament. It would require that they win their next four games and that other MWC standings change from their current status.
“There is a chance that we could still make it to conference. The important thing is to keep motivated and so far the best way we’ve done this is by not placing blame on any particular areas and by staying positive,” Cherny notes. As far as next year’s season is concerned, there is a lot of potential. The team’s improvement lately will certainly carry over to next year.
The Viking’s next home game is May 6 against St. Norbert College. This is a critical game for the men and it is their last of the season. So, come support the LU men’s baseball team to certain victory.