Baseball preps for 2016

For the Truman State baseball team, this spring is about more than defending last season’s College World Series berth. The Bulldogs are focused on creating a new identity, exceeding expectations and improving in all facets of the game. With the first game of the season Saturday, the team has its first opportunity to show the improvements they have made.

Head Coach Dan Davis says this season’s team is the best he has seen under his lead at Truman. Davis says he attributes part of the team’s talent to his players’ hard work during preseason workouts and the right mindset going into opening day. Practicing six days a week — five of those at 5:30 a.m. — Davis says the team strives to put in its maximum effort each day and to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. He says during the preseason, the team placed special emphasis on the fact that this season’s team is different than last year’s team. He says this idea needs to be the focal point of how the players approach this season.

“We can’t sit back and think that because we did something special last year that that’s going to carry over to this year,” Davis says. “Should it give us confidence? 100 percent. But if we throw our hat on the field and think people are going to lay down because we did something pretty cool last year, then it’s not going to happen.”

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Davis says during the preseason, his players competed for multiple starting positions. Because key starters in the field, on the pitching mound and on the plate have graduated, returning players, junior college transfers and freshmen all have the chance to earn a spot in the starting lineup. He says despite battling for starting spots, the players are in great spirits and are being great teammates to one another, meeting the expectations Davis says he has of each of his players.

Last summer, Davis hired Assistant Coach Zak Larkin, a four-year starter for the Bulldog baseball team who graduated last spring. Larkin says he is looking forward to helping the team progress and learning the ropes as a coach.

“I tell the guys every day, my goal as a coach is to keep them level-headed,” Larkin says. “Having the success that we did last year, hopefully the returners and myself can steer the team in the same direction.”

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