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Cougars claim consecutive league titles

Photo by Alex Schenkel - Senior Kenny McCambridge makes a throw from third base.

The MVNU Baseball team wrapped up another impressive regular season on Monday with a pair of wins over Goshen College (Indiana) which secured them first place in the Crossroads League for a second consecutive year and a pair of wins at Indiana Wesleyan University to close out their conference schedule.

Their 34-8 (23-3 Crossroads League) 2015 campaign was highlighted by a 16-game winning streak which spanned from the end of March to the middle of April. Over that stretch, the

Cougars completed their 4-man pitching rotation three times without a loss and even earned a pair of nonconference wins over the University of Cincinnati-Clermont from sophomore Jacob Chrysler and freshman Ashton Myers, the fifth and sixth pitchers on the staff.

With a staff ERA of 2.59 (good for 10th in the nation), pitching has been a large part of the Cougars’ success this season. Junior Lucas Daugherty leads the starters with an ERA of 2.05, allowing only 15 earned runs in 64 innings of work. Daugherty, with a perfect record of 9-0 and 7 complete games, has established himself as a strong candidate for Crossroads League Pitcher of the Year at the front of the conference’s best rotation. Junior Roberto Cediel, Sophomore Bryce Arledge and Senior Ben Hoar have also combined for a record of 16-6 this season, making the Cougars the top seed in the Crossroads League Tournament again this year.

Complementing the great pitching, the MVNU bats have been lively as well this season. The lineup averages .321 and has more than doubled their opponents’ run totals (216-103). Seniors Jake Dickerson and Anthony Clark and Junior Efrain Montero lead the Cougars in batting average and have combined for 13 home runs and 81 RBI this season. Reigning Crossroads League Player of the Year Riley Swanson has also contributed 4 home runs and 21 RBI while batting .284.

The Cougars of course entered the season with a high expectations and a lot of attention, which MVNU head coach Keith Veale believes his team handled well.

“A lot of teams in sports have high expectations placed on them and a lot of times a lot of people just fall short of that in a lot of ways but this team has had them placed on them right from the start of the season just by being defending champions from a year ago,” Veale said. “I feel like these guys have handled it well and payed at a pretty consistent level all year long.

The Cougars honored ten graduating seniors on Senior Day Monday as their regular season came to a close. After the four wins this week, the graduating class owns a 144-59 career record at MVNU. Of course, that record is likely to improve as they enter the postseason with high expectations.

“I feel like we’re hungry,” senior catcher Clint Spencer said. “We got our two losses out of the way and I’d say we as a team are on fire right now.”

The Cougars will play Bethel/USF at home on Saturday at 1:00 pm in Round 1 of the Crossroads League Tournament.

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