On Monday, Penn baseball unveiled its newly renovated, state-of-the-art locker room, but it will be a while before the team gets to use it.
While the rest of the student body will be off for spring break, Penn will travel south. opening its season with a nine-game road trip in 10 days, making stops in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.“You can’t beat it. It’s the first game of the year, first week down south,” senior captain Ryan Deitrich said. “We’ve been stuck in 12-degree weather all winter. It doesn’t get much better than getting on the field and getting ready to play.”
Penn typically travels to Florida over spring break, but this year’s trip will be a bit different. The coaching staff decided that it wanted a slightly different experience this time.
“We’re going to bus it, try and do it a little different and be closer to the team daily,” coach John Cole said. “It’s a kind of laid-back atmosphere rather than flying and staying in a hotel or condo.”
The Quakers had a tough season last year, going 17-23 overall and 8-12 in Ivy League play. But Cole believes that last year’s record doesn’t tell the whole story, and that the team has improved considerably.
“We didn’t look so good on paper because of the amount of injuries we had last year, but most of those guys are back and healthy, and I have a lot of confidence in those guys,” Cole said.
Former standouts Vince Voiro, Greg Zebrack and Derek Vigoa have all graduated since last season’s end, creating some holes in the lineup and rotation that the coaching staff will have to fill.
There are only three seniors on the roster for Penn, leaving the team searching for contributors out of the talented — but raw — freshman and sophomore classes.
“I think we’re young, but I think we have a lot of talent,” Deitrich said. “I think our pitching staff is probably one of the stronger ones we have had in a long time.”
Cole also spoke to the young and deep pitching staff that the team will have this year.“I think we have some depth on the mound for the first time in about five years,” Cole said. “We have a very young but rapidly developing pitching staff, and some guys could really take off.”
The Quakers also have strength in the outfield. Deitrich, a right fielder and the team’s top returning hitter from last season, will be the leader of what Cole described as a “very athletic” outfield.
“We have a lot of power in the offense this year, so it’s interesting to see if we can put it all together,” Deitrich said.
Still, there are a lot of questions for the Quakers, ones that won’t be answered until this weekend’s opening series against William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.
“We’ve had a great preseason. I’ve been very pleased with the effort, the intensity in practice and the methodical progression of getting ready for the season,” Cole said.
“You like to think you have everything in, but you never know until that first ball goes up.”