Twelve games into the season, Mines’ Baseball has already proved they can be competitive. It’s already evident that the Orediggers can bounce back after a rough series start. Despite starting the non-conference series against Fort Hays with a 10-3 loss, they managed to turn around and win the final game 16-1 to split the series 2-2 with Fort Hays.
More recently against Angelo State after a 14-4 loss in the first game, they came back with three big wins (10-7, 5-2, and 13-5), managing to clinch the series 3-1 and come off with 32 total hits.
“The biggest challenges to the season will be how we handle adversity. We have talked about this quite a bit. Everybody and every team has adversity in their life and on the field. How you respond to it defines you as a team and as an individual. The teams that are able to respond to failures and adversity during the course of the season will be the most successful,” said Coach Goodale about the key to success as a team.
“We have most of our line-up and pitching staff returning. We had some key injuries last year, so it’s nice to get those guys back and healthy as well. There are a lot of guys that have been key contributors in the field and on the mound since they were freshmen, so it’s a very seasoned group. In addition, we have a great group of newcomers so there is lot of competition for playing time which has made everyone better,” he said.
Two of these newcomers are Jace Selsor and Mikey Gangwish. Selsor, a freshman utility player, has already made 44 appearances at bat and boasts 15 hits, four of which resulted in runs. Gangwish, another freshman, has seven assists as a catcher only 12 games into the season.
Nine players who pitched at least two innings last season are returning this year. Among them are seniors Christian Rooney and Nate Olinger. Last season, Rooney pitched 68 innings with 56 strikeouts and a low ERA of 5.03. Olinger pitched 63 innings with 53 strikeouts and 3.71 ERA.
Olinger has also received several pre-season honors, including RMAC Pre-Season Player of the Year and Pre-Season All-American by NCBWA. Joining Olinger on the Pre-Season Player of the Year squad is junior Logan Smith who has shown he can be a threat in the outfield as well as at the plate.
“The most important one is the RMAC championship. A lot of people say it, but pre-season doesn’t mean much unless you can do something about it. It’s nice to get appreciated, but at the end of the day, what really matters is getting the Ws,” Olinger remarked.
“Our goal will always be to win the RMAC. It’s never been done in the history of our program but that is something that we will always strive for,” said Goodale, echoing Olinger’s sentiment.
In a pre-season coach’s poll, Mines was picked fourth in the RMAC behind defending champions Colorado Mesa, CSU-Pueblo, and MSU Denver. Despite the ranking, Mines is not backing away from a challenge.
“It’ll be nice to play Mesa here for senior weekend. They’ve always had our number, and I feel like our teams are looking really good this season, so it’ll be nice to be able to take it to them in our home court,” Olinger explained.
Mines baseball starts conference play on March 4 at MSU Denver. Their next home series starts on March 11 against Colorado Christian.