With their opening series just around the corner, the Kingsmen baseball team is pumped and ready to win.
After a tough last season, with their goal of a SCIAC Championship just out of reach, the boys and their coaching staff are coming back refreshed and as positive as ever.
Their hard off-season work will be put to the test as they face Whitworth, who are a top-five-ranked team from eastern Washington, on Feb. 8.
This season the team, coaches and fans will be relying on the senior team members for strong leadership on and off the field. Trevor Koons, Nick Boggan, Garrett Smith, John Leal and Kevin Leonard have played together during their four-year career at CLU.
As seniors, they are looking to better themselves on and off the field in order to lead their younger teammates toward a championship before graduation.
“I look forward to getting after it this year with a great group of guys, both new and old,” said Leal. “We want to win for our team and the chemistry on the field formed over the past four years will help us do just that.”
Both upper and lower classmen were given the opportunity to play exhibition games in Australia over winter break. Fourteen team members were able to make the trip. The team played pro-Australian teams in Brisbane and Sydney.
Head coach Marty Slimak, who accompanied them, coordinated this trip. He says it was an eye-opening and developmental trip for the team, which is why they make the journey every three years. Although not everyone had the chance to take part in the 10-day Australian adventure, the coaching staff is hopeful that the camaraderie of the team will help the Kingsmen achieve the end result they wish for.
With a very tough SCIAC conference this season, assistant coach Adam Leavitt believes he holds the recipe for success.
“Our offense this season will be strong with leaders like Nick Boggan, Trevor Koons and Nick DeLorenzo putting runs on the board, as well as outfielder Ronnie Burton and center fielder Mike Vinyard,” said Leavitt. “In order to get over this hump we will have to be strong on the mound and take care of the baseball, in combination with timely hitting. They’re up for the challenge.”
Vinyard has made a smooth transition from playing catcher last year to patrolling center field in his final season at Cal Lutheran.
“As long as we take it one game at a time and don’t overlook any team or game, we should have a very successful season with the returning talent alongside the new impact guys that came this fall,” said Vinyard.
Eyes are on transfer outfielder Burton, as well as pitcher and outfielder Jake Peterson, to bring even more strength to the field.
“I just want to be a guy who comes out every day and does whatever the coaches ask of me,” said Burton. “I’ve played a lot of baseball these past few years and I want to bring my knowledge and experience to this squad so hopefully we can garner a SCIAC title.”
Families come from all over the West Coast to watch the Kingsmen play and help set the scene for the student fans as they pile in.
“Having my family there each game has been a really cool blessing,” said Boggan. “Fans don’t realize the impact they have on the players and how much we appreciate each time they come out and support a team who is just trying to work hard and play the game of baseball.”
For more information on the baseball schedule, go to www.clusports.com/baseball.
Published Feb. 6, 2013