By: Collin Frazier
New and old faces in the Oiler softball and baseball teams come together to achieve common goals
As the weather starts to warm up (and cool down, in some cases), both Oiler Baseball and Softball are continuing their 2022 seasons. The baseball team is hoping to improve from their disappointing 14-25 2021 campaign, while the softball team is hoping to exceed beyond their 23-18 season. Both teams, while having great experience on the diamond, also are ready for fresh faces.
For the softball team, it’s all about players filling in positions while fine-tuning what returns.
“We bring back a ton of returning players. Our entire infield is returning so that looks really good,” Assistant Coach Lane Leedy explained. “We also lost our entire outfield. We bring back two of our three starting pitchers from last year and an arsenal of starters behind the plate.
“It’ll be interesting to see how the pieces fall in the outfield. Everything else looks to be kind of similar to what we saw last year,” she said.
For the baseball team, it’s all about a new head coach. Matt Palm joins the team bringing over a decade of experience from DIII Heidelberg University. Even with this new position, the goal is all the same.
“It doesn’t matter what division you’re at,” Palm stated. It’s about what you want to accomplish. Our goals for this program is to have great young men, that wanna be good students, that wanna be great people off the field and wanna compete like crazy on the baseball field.”
Every new season comes with growing pains, be it new players or a new coach. Despite that, Palm feels great progress has been made.
“Since I arrived in the fall, guys have been very focused. We made gains in all areas. We’ve got a group of young men that bring a lot of talent and we’re gonna play aggressive baseball,” he said. “We’re gonna continue to chase those and have our focus on all of those areas and when you do that, good things will happen.”
“We put a lot of time into pitching,” Palm continued. “We know we gotta do that at a much higher level than what happened last year, and offensively we’re gonna be more aggressive on the bases. We’re gonna do a better job moving the baseball off and putting it in play. We’re gonna go out and play hard and let the chips fall where they fall.”
For softball, Leedy feels team culture is the most important determinant in a great season, something she feels has progressed greatly throughout the pre-season as well.
“We obviously have a larger team – as do most here on campus– and so when you put 40 girls in a room and ask them all to get along that’s a different ball game,” Leedy commented, “But, they learn through their strengths and through each person who they are as an individual.”
Both teams have the opportunity to shape up any remaining kinks during the remaining season. The teams have also played games in Florida this season.
“That’s grueling – ten games in twelve days, it’s a lot,” said Coach Leedy describing the Florida trip. “It’s a push and you really grow and I think there’s a good balance down there.” Both coaches feel these tournaments will benefit the teams greatly come conference play.
It’s the challenges that prepare players for success, says Leedy.
“We have some really tough games,” Leedy continued. “We’re looking to go out and compete and play our best and learn from every opportunity and continue to improve throughout the year.”
Featured image: University of Findlay Athletics.