William Masselli ~ Sports Columnist
At a 25-11 overall record and a 15-4 record in ODAC play, the University of Lynchburg Men’s Baseball Team is turning a 2-6 start into a home run season that could feature an ODAC title.
Brandon Pond, a junior pitcher and infielder, illustrated that the 2-6 record was indicative of the team’s rustiness. Pond said, “After starting off with a 2-6 record, we realized we had some work to do. We had our previous season canceled due to the coronavirus, so we were rusty. We always knew we had the talent and potential to be great. We started working more efficiently and executing in practice to make things easier in the games.”
Pond continued, “My teammates, coaches, and I did our part to ensure we can recover from a disappointing start and be in the position we are in now. We are now in position to win an ODAC championship, a dream that will be truly special for us if it comes to fruition.”
Head Coach Lucas Jones is grateful that the disappointing start allowed him to address his team’s weaknesses. “Looking back, the 2-6 start was actually a blessing,” he stated. “It created some questions that we needed to answer and answer quickly. Our mindset was off, so that slow start allowed us to take a step back and process what adjustments needed to be made. We were able to put some players in different positions and take a different offensive approach that has vastly improved over the season. Our pitching staff has tremendous depth. During this season, the opportunities to get on the mound and continue to log game time were important. We knew they would succeed, but it was just going to take some repetition and competition.”
Despite the success and Jones’ confidence in his players doing well, Jones is not ready to guarantee an ODAC title. “We are a confident group, but I do not know what exactly predicts championships,” he explained. “We have just as much talent, depth, and high level of play as any other team in the ODAC does. The best part about playing in the ODAC is that the ODAC is widely respected throughout the nation. Our league has some of the best coaches, programs, and players in the country. Once the postseason arrives, we are excited to put our hearts on the mound against anyone.”
Jones continued, “Championships represent excessive amounts of work and execution. Since we have had to deal with so many protocols and other forms of adversity, winning a championship this year would be extremely special. However, teams do not win championships every year because it is extremely difficult to do. My message to my players is to cherish all the opportunities they have to play for a championship. Heading into the ODAC tournament and hopefully, the championship game, I want my players to go in there expecting to win and expecting to execute well.”
Santiago Meneses, a senior pitcher, expressed wanting to finish this season with an ODAC championship to send a message to the rest of the nation. He said, “Bouncing back from a 2-6 start and winning the ODAC championship in the same year sends a strong statement to other teams in the nation regarding the culture our team has created. It does not matter how you start the season, but it does matter how you end the season. Overcoming failure is a large part of baseball because baseball is a game of many errors. Our team is a great team because we have shown that we can overcome failures and solve complicated situations. I am so proud of being part of a team that is creating history in the Lynchburg community.”