Sports

QC baseball team hopes to strike out 16-year playoff drought

Photo Courtesy of Michael Balestra
Photo Courtesy of Michael Balestra

After spending months in the weight room, the Queens College men’s baseball team was anxious to get out and start playing ball.

The season was scheduled to begin on Feb. 28. However, due to inclement weather, the away game in Virginia was canceled. In fact, many games across the country were cancelled, especially in the northeast.

“At this point, the significance would be to get outside and play some ball,” Coach Chris Reardon said.

Starting on March 7, the Knights were scheduled to compete at Franklin Pierce University, but this game was postponed as well.

The team’s season finally began on March 8 with a loss to Franklin Pierce University in both games of the doubleheader.

Located in Rindge, New Hampshire, just north of Massachusetts, Franklin Pierce rank number 9 overall in Division II. This doesn’t seem to faze Reardon and his Knights, and despite their competitive schedule they are up for the challenge.

”If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best,” Coach Reardon said.

Although the Franklin Pierce field is made of turf — making it easier to play and clean — Reardon described it as “a unique and interesting site.”

The immediate goal for the team is to make the playoffs, which is something that they haven’t done since 1998. At the time, QC was the best team in the conference and won the conference tournament with Reardon playing as a pitcher.

Despite changes over the years with different rules and regulations, like the use of aluminum bats as opposed to wood, Coach Reardon sees some similarities between the title team of 1998 and this year’s players.

“2015’s defense is comparable to the 1998 team. The pitching staff also looks solid. Offense is also key, but defense and pitching is what wins championships in America’s pastime,” Coach Reardon said.

Coming off a poor year in 2014, the team is faced with a number of challenges this year, including 17 new players on the roster. However, Reardon feels comfortable about this. He said there are “quite a few new guys who can make an immediate impact.”

The new recruiting class looks to veteran utility player Joe Paparella, senior, for guidance. Paparella is an enthusiastic and elaborate small-ball baseball player who brings veteran fielding skills and leadership to the young team. Paparella, 22, discussed his role on the team. Capable of playing shortstop, third base and second base – although, not all at the same time- Paparella plays “wherever the team needs me,” he said.

While Paparella isn’t the loudest guy on the team, he does lead by example. The senior shares tips and ideas with the younger players by demonstrating his diverse fielding skills and ability to play multiple positions. He does all this while also batting to the top of the order.

This talented, young team consists of “good students who get good grades and are a good overall group of guys who mesh well together,” Reardon said.

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