RTTR: Road to the ring.
That’s been the motto of the Lehigh baseball team for several years now. Only this year, the team hopes to make it back-to-back rings.
The Mountain Hawks (25-31, 12-8 Patriot in 2015) begin their attempt to defend the Patriot League Championship this Sunday as they open up the season on the road in Norfolk, Virginia, for a three-game series against Norfolk State University (27-16 in 2015). While the 2015 season was memorable, the returnees are not completely satisfied with last year’s results and believe they can make some changes to have even more success in 2016.
“We would like to get off to a better start this year,” senior shortstop Mackey Price said. “Last year we struggled during the first half of the season, but the championship was an incredible experience and something that we would like to build on this year.”
As with every season, the team lost a number of graduating players, but the underclassmen learned a great deal from last year’s successes and are ready to step up and contribute in a big way. Additionally, the team welcomes in a freshmen class of 10, which looks to play pivotal roles right away.
Seniors Michael Garzillo, Kevin Long and Kevin Boswick will be relied on to lead the Mountain Hawks and carry the team through the Patriot League. In a league that is competitive every season, one team is highlighted on the player’s schedule more than any of the others, and that is the Navy Midshipmen (37-20 in 2015). Lehigh will travel to Annapolis, Maryland, for the anticipated matchup on April 16.
“We are obviously excited to see Navy again,” senior outfielder Anthony Rinaldi said. “They played us really well, and we would love to take it to them again this year and put an exclamation mark on what we started last year.”
While Navy is the league favorite, the Mountain Hawks know they cannot take any opponent lightly this year. As the defending champions, they’ll likely be targeted.
“Our goal this year is to keep the trophy in Bethlehem and prove to the Patriot League that we are going to be a championship caliber team for many years to come, especially because it is a very competitive league year in and year out,” Rinaldi said.
Outside of league play, spring break is a vital time for the team. This year, the Mountain Hawks travel to Winter Haven, Florida, for matchups with Bradley University, University of Maine, Dartmouth College and the University of Massachusetts. They said the time off from school is nice, but the trip to the Sunshine State is all business.
“We would like to get off to a better start this year and go down to Florida for spring break and play well,” Price said. “Last year we struggled during the first half of the season, so we are looking to get off to better start.”
The team’s sights are set a little higher this time around. Price said he wants to be the first Lehigh baseball team in school history to win a game at Regionals.
The team will begin its season on Sunday in a doubleheader. Game 1 begins at 1 p.m.