The Truman State University baseball team opened their season with a series victory over Kentucky Wesleyan College, winning three of the four games. The series’ final game featured a final-inning comeback for the Bulldogs, scoring three runs and only allowing one in the ninth to clinch the victory.
The series marks a promising start to the season for a Bulldog team that has yet to see much success throughout the past few years. The team has not had a winning season or an appearance in the GLVC postseason tournament since 2015, though they did win 11 more games during 2022 than during 2021.
In the preseason GLVC coaches’ poll, the Bulldogs were ranked 12 out of 13 teams.
“Why didn’t they pick us last?” head coach Dan Davis said. “I guess we were better than one team last year, so it’s the right spot, but that stuff doesn’t really matter to us other than as something to put on the dugout wall as motivation.”
Senior starting pitcher Zach Schneider said he thinks the rest of the conference underestimates the Bulldogs heading into this season. He said this year’s squad is poised to surprise the conference with their abilities.
Schneider said the biggest reason for this newfound optimism is the experience this year’s team boasts. They lost four players from a season ago, only two of which were major contributors.
“We have gone through the ups and downs before,” Holden Missey, senior first baseman and pitcher said. “We have a core group of guys that have now played together for four years and can use that experience this season.”
The Bulldogs will be led this season by Missey and Schneider, who led the team in hitting and pitching last season, respectively.
Missey was named to the first-team all-GLVC last season as a two-way player, meaning he excelled offensively, defensively and on the pitching mound. He led the team with 13 home runs, 119 total bases and a .361 batting average, and a 4.66 ERA in 14 appearances as a pitcher.
This performance also earned him first-team all-Midwest region from the Div. II College Coaches Association.
Schneider posted a 2.90 ERA in 12 starts last season, earning him an all-GLVC first-team nod.
According to Davis, this season, Missey will take on a different role, stepping into the starting rotation and spending less time at first base.
This gives senior Jack Darwin, a first baseman that has not found a consistent starting role on the team in four years because of Missey’s success, an opportunity to step up. Last season, Darwin started in just two games and only made 25 plate appearances.
Missey and Schneider both said they expect Darwin to be a major contributor and have a breakout season this year.
“He knows baseball better than anyone I know,” Schneider said. “He’s smart, and he brings a lot to the table. With [Missey] pitching one game per series now, [Darwin] will be a very important piece of the team this year.”
Missey and Schneider also mentioned sophomore pitcher and outfielder Simon Murrary, sophomore pitcher Cole Eggerding and senior outfielder Kevin Donohue as players stepping into bigger roles to watch for breakout seasons.
Davis said that he believes the entire team will take a step forward this season, not just one or several players.
Missey, Davis and Schnieder made it clear that the team has one main goal this season.
“We want to play in the conference tournament this year,” Missey said. “A lot of teams are underestimating us, and we want to prove them wrong this year.”