Raider baseball hopes pitching, defense can win games

Raider baseball hopes pitching, defense can win games

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Andy McDonald – Collegiate Staff

The baseball team at Grand Rapids Community College is back to practicing and getting ready for the 2016 season beginning this spring.

Coach Mike Cupples is ready to get the new season going after last year didn’t go the way the team wanted.

“It all needs to start right now, because last year was just rough, there is no way around it,” Cupples said. “We had some injuries and only two people actually play in games that were on the team the year before. We’re looking to get more intensity and effort out of the guys who played last year, and win a few games when we go down south to start the year.”

Last season the team had 18 freshman and nine sophomores. Nine of the freshman are returning, which leaves much more experience on this season’s team. GRCC’s record last year was 13-38 overall and 9-17 in conference. They ended the season on a five-game losing streak.

Cupples believes that he knows the reason as to why they were losing games, and thinks if they want to win this year it will be key.

“The biggest thing for us is pitching and defense, if we can do both of those things we have a chance to win every game,” Cupples said. “We have to work on every aspect of the game, but pitching and defense are what keep you in games no matter what.”

GRCC has five pitchers returning this season, (Shane Odzark, Brad Buurstra, Justin Palmbos, Ean Walda, and Trevor Russo) who the team will lean on for many of the innings.

When it comes to leaders, there were two people Coach Cupples had in mind for this season.

“John Moody is behind the plate and Brenden Johnson is at first and are both returning this year,” Cupples said. “I’m really looking for those two in the field every game to give the younger guys someone to look to in situations in the game.”

Buurstra had the team’s best earned run average at 5.30 on 18.2 innings pitched, and had 16 strikeouts to 11 walks. Johnson had the highest batting average of the returning players at

.281 with a .344 slugging percentage.

Coach Cupples knows the team has been working hard and is ready for the 2016 season to get started.

“Right now I’m really proud of the guys for not just going through the motions and showing how much they care every day,” Cupples said. “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the coaching staff because they have been putting in a lot of effort as well.”

“We are just ready to get down south and hopefully come out of there with a few wins because that can be hard sometimes, and it could really be a boost for us to start the season.”

The team’s first game will be against Tallahassee Community College at 3:30 p.m. Friday, March 4 in Tallahassee, Florida.

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