Family. They have your back through the good times and the bad.
Penn baseball's pitchers have likewise embraced a family lifestyle and everything that comes with it.
The close-knit bond between the pitching staff was formed early. Junior Christian Scafidi remembers feeling connected to the other pitchers even when he was getting recruited to Penn.
“When I got recruited here, there were three guys who were four-year starters, and I got to see what their workload was like in practice, how they performed, and I got to meet some of the other pitchers who were coming with me. We instantly clicked,” Scafidi said.
Every good rotation needs a group of relievers who can finish the job even if the starter is not on his A game.
“It's definitely huge knowing that if we don’t come out and have the best outing that we have someone that can come in behind us and shut the door,“ junior John Alan Kendrick said.
Even when the group as a whole has an off game, they know that the support of coach John Yurkow and their teammates is unwavering. This serves to take some of the pressure off of their backs.
“That's one of the best things about playing baseball, especially being here at Penn. I have 14, 15 other pitchers who are all some of my closest friends on and off the field," Scafidi said. “Those guys are always going to be in the dugout cheering you on. Just knowing that those guys are going to be there for you no matter what you do, it's one of the best parts of being on a team like this."
As for Scafidi, he sees himself as the type of leader who not only leads by example but also cares about his teammates as people. This emphasis on personal bonding has enabled the group to become closer both on and off the diamond.
“I am very relationship-oriented in terms of my leadership style. I have very good relationships with a lot of guys on the team, being an upperclassman who has been here for a couple of years," Scafidi said. “Having that respect as well as a good relationship with a lot of the younger guys to gain their respect and trust has helped me lead them on and off the field."
This year, while the Quakers' offense have been putting up gaudy numbers, the pitching staff has flown under the radar. Even if it's not talked about as much, the pitchers have been putting in a lot of work ever since last season ended, and that effort has paid dividends.
“Coming back in the fall, we had a very good offseason. We were working hard in the weight room, on the field and the mound. Just kind of trusting the process a little bit, like taking the drills that the coaches had me working on and trusting that those were going to work for me," Scafidi said. “This season, I started off pretty decently and then was able to work through it and continue to improve on what I previously had, and that led to some recent success as of late."
“We have been really working hard this year and throughout the weeks to get ready for games, and I think we have really given ourselves a chance to win and a shot to win the Ivy League,” Kendrick said.
The pitching rotation will look to shut down the Columbia offense this weekend when the Red and Blue host the Lions, who are tied for first in the Ivy League, at Meiklejohn Stadium.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.