Southern’s baseball season is well underway
Philip Zoppi – Sports Writer
The 2016 Southern baseball team is looking to rebound from a disappointing 18-19 record in the 2015 season.
Tim Shea, the head baseball coach since 2002, has led the Owls to two NCAA World Series berths in his career. Shea believes that this year’s team has the potential to be the third team to make it to the NCAA World Series during his tenure.
“I definitely think that we have the potential,” said Shea. “The guys have worked extremely hard. We have the components in terms of a good pitching staff and that we play tremendous defense. Those were the two key components; pitching and playing defense, of the teams that reached the NCAA World Series.”
Shea has an impressive impression during his time as manager as he’s totaled a 384-230-3 record. One of the reasons for the 18-19 record last year was the Owls did not have a lot of reliable pitchers. A.J. Turnier was the most consistent starter as he started nine games and posted a 2.29 ERA.
With Turnier no longer on the roster, Shea is looking for a collective effort to fill his void. Jason Harper, a senior pitcher on the team, is one of the main arms Shea will have to look to. Harper started five games last year and finished with a 2.66 ERA.
On the hitting side, one of the players that Shea is looking at to step up is the starting shortstop, Ethan Joyce. Joyce has assumed the role of starting shortstop for his first two seasons as an Owl. In Joyce’s freshman season he had a .202 batting average but was able to raise that to .254 in his sophomore season.
Joyce reflected on why he thinks he was able to raise his batting average so much and what he did this offseason to try and raise it even more.
“One of the biggest things was cutting down on my strikeouts,” said Joyce. “I worked with a bunch of my friends during the summer and they helped me a lot with my swing.”
Joyce cut his strikeouts in half as he only had 23 in his sophomore season compared to 48 in his freshmen.
Joyce was a part of the 18-19 team last year and thinks that this team can be a lot better and that they might even be a closer group this year.
“I feel like ever since the fall we’ve come together. This is the closest team I’ve been on in three years. It’s not just on the field that we’re a team, but off the field as well,” said Joyce.
Southern was selected to finish fourth in the Southwest Division of the Northeast-10 Conference Preseason Coach’s poll. New Haven received the most first place votes with six. Southern received three first place votes. Shea knows the Southwest Division is tough to win, but knows his players are up for the challenge.
“It’s a very competitive division and I think you can see that from the coaches voting with five different teams getting first place votes. To be honest we just have to go out and play. I think we’re more than capable of winning this division,” said Shea.
The Owls will play seven games before their first home game on March 8 against the University of Bridgeport.
Photo Credit: SCSU Athletic Communications