That feeling of triumph being snatched from your midst can become disheartening, especially over time. For the Ichabod baseball team last year, that sensation was all too real.
“Last year was a disappointing year for us,” said Steve Anson, head coach. “We had eight one-run losses and I think three or four two-run losses. In games we had an opportunity to win, we just didn’t come through with the play, the hit or make the pitch. We didn’t have a lot of experience on the field.”
The equation of experience will have a chance to be solved this year with leaders stepping to the forefront.
“We got a strong senior class this year with a lot of experience,” said Chris Atkins, a senior second baseman.
Experience’s tag-team partner, depth, is also lending a hand.
“We’re in a situation where I think we are almost too deep at every position, and we haven’t had that luxury in quite awhile,” said Anson.
Depth is always a good insurance policy in case of injury, but it will also serve another purpose vital to the team.
“I think there were some times we had some guys who lost an edge because they thought they had their job wrapped up,” said Anson. “I don’t see that being necessarily the case this year. People are going to have to go out and produce, and if they don’t, there’s going to be someone who will step in and probably will.”
Last season, the Ichabods fell short of qualifying for their conference tournament while melting down the stretch. Depth in the pitching staff may prevent a similar fate this year.
“I’m hoping that our staff has the depth to help us get through that,” said Anson. “I think that’s going to be a big key. That’s what it’s going to come down to.”
Making the conference playoffs, something that didn’t happen last year, is a top goal for Anson this year.
“I think it’s very doable for us,” said Anson. “It’s a challenge, too, because there’s a lot of good teams in our conference and we can only take four. So there’s going to be some good teams left out.”
For the conference playoffs to materialize, those one-run losses need to become one-run wins.
“We need somebody to step up and drive in those runs when the opportunity presents itself,” said Anson. “Make the play when the game is on the line, make the pitch. It wasn’t like we weren’t in games. To me, I think it’s just winning some of those close games by just going out and making the play when the game is on the line.”
Their first chance to make the play will be 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19 as the Ichabods host Baker.
“Coach Phillip Hannon [Baker’s coach], he’s done a great job,” said Anson. “They just built a brand new field about two years ago, and it’s really helped their recruiting efforts, and he’s got a good program.”
It’s a program that was good enough to beat Washburn 5-4 in last year’s meeting at Falley Field. This year Anson and the Ichabods are looking to return the favor with a solid victory to open the season.
“If you can’t get ready to play opening day, there’s something wrong,” said Anson.