vilardo

After hitting .320 near the top of Penn’s batting order last season, sophomore infielder Mike Vilardo will have to anchor the Quakers’ lineup in 2014.

Photo: Carolyn Lim , Carolyn Lim

New coach. New schedule. New attitude.

After a disappointing 22-21, 7-13 Ivy season, Penn baseball stripped the old hardware and brought a new vigor to its squad. And this weekend, the Quakers will have a chance to put a positive stamp on the new regime when they travel to play four games against Dallas Baptist.

The Quakers have been hard at work rebuilding their strategy under the tutelage of new coach John Yurkow who has spent the last few seasons as the top assistant coach under former coach John Cole .

In Yurkow’s first few months with the team, it is evident that team chemistry and friendship are the crux of this new style. The Red and Blue have been active in philanthropy by donating a few thousand dollars and a lot of hair to the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, an event junior pitcher Ronnie Glenn said “brought the team closer than ever.”

“It’s been really great because a lot of players have really bought into it,” Glenn added of the fundraiser. “I think the competition aspect of our fundraiser has been positive for the team.”

Dallas Baptist (6-2) has had an impressive start to its season, looking to improve on a 30-30 campaign from a year ago. In the Patriots’ first few games, they dominated Mississippi Valley State, scoring 52 runs in three games while splitting with Sam Houston State.

They have looked strong, but Penn’s revitalized squad will not back down from the challenge.

While offseason preparation is hard for baseball teams up north due to its lack of hospitable playing conditions, the Red and Blue have been hard at work, improving their conditioning and doing everything possible in the air structure at Penn Park.

As for returning players, Penn will look to staples in its roster like junior pitcher Connor Cuff and sophomore infielder Mike Vilardo to help make a statement in the early goings of this season. They were consistent producers at the end of Cole’s tenure and will not only need to contribute in their roles, but also get the ball rolling early.

Even more so, Yurkow and the team will look to their star recruits to begin their careers at Penn.

It’s hard to say what the new season will bring for the Quakers, but all signs point to a positive change under Yurkow. The players seem excited, and the coaches will look to foster their excitement in the early part of the season before Ivy play.

“I think what coach Yurkow has already done has been really great for the team,” Glenn said in an earlier interview. “We are excited to get out there and start playing ball.”

What the rest of the season will hold, only time will tell. But as of now, this new slate of personnel and fresh start look to be exactly what the Red and Blue need.

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