MVNU baseball’s head coach Keith Veale is challenging his players to “step up and bring it” every time they take the field this season.
The Cougars are coming off of a 37-12 season that saw them win the Crossroads League regular season title and qualify for the opening round of the NAIA championship.
Though the team graduated 10 seniors from 2015, Veale says this year’s Cougars are full of potential.
MVNU returns 12 players and welcomes 13 newcomers to the 2016 roster. The team went undefeated in four games in the fall.
“We do have a lot of new faces on the team,” Veale said. “I don’t see that as a bad thing, just different.”
Among the freshmen who are already making an impact for the Cougars are Yanni Patten, Aaron Saal and Trenton Wood.
A teachable spirit and a desire to play will allow them to learn on the run as the season gets underway, Veale said.
“We will have numerous first year guys on the field this spring,” he said. “I am confident that they will make significant contributions.”
With all the newcomers, however, Veale said he expects the seniors to step up and take the lead.
“On any high-performance team, guys that have been through the battles have to step up and lead,” he said. “Their growth and influence off the field is probably where their leadership is felt the most.”
Efrain (Jay) and Jamie Montero, the brothers that powered MVNU’s offense last season, will return to the Cougar field this season.
Senior Jay Montero finished the 2015 season with a team second-best 0.392 batting average while junior Jamie Montero finished the campaign batting 0.323. Throughout the fall season, Jay powered the Cougars with a 0.462 batting average, and Jamie posted a 0.333 batting average.
Senior Riley Swanson and junior Jacob Chrysler also are expected to add some punch to the Cougar offense this season. Swanson finished last season with a batting average of 0.302, and Chrysler posted an impressive 0.636 batting average in MVNU’s four fall games.
The team looks to seniors Roberto Cediel and Lucas Daugherty to lead the pitching staff.
Cediel posted an impressive 2.61 ERA last year and gave up only one earned run in the game he pitched during fall play. Daugherty finished with a 3.39 ERA last year and led the Cougars with a 10-2 record.
Veale said he wants to challenge his Cougars to play with consistency and top-notch effort every time they take the field.
“While handling the adversity that always comes with grinding out a season, whether it be injuries, poor execution or weather, we will focus on bringing it every day and enjoying the blessing of being in the arena of competition,” Veale said.