The College of Southern Maryland Hawks baseball team will open up their 2020 season on Saturday, February 22 when they host Finger Lakes Community College for a 12:00 and 2:00 p.m. doubleheader.
Four key players returning to CSM - 2019 NJCAA All-Region XX Division II Honorable Mention infielder and pitcher Trevor Drummond, catchers Peyton Myers and Sean Mason, and pitcher Dylan Bell - will be looking to lead the Hawks in a more positive direction than what they experienced in 2019, when they went 7-35-1 and endured losing streaks of eight, nine, and 10 games.
"The four returners that we have are all really solid guys," head coach Aaron Michael said. "I'm excited because I think this year's team has a little bit more potential to get some wins, and that's something that those guys didn't see a lot of last year. So for them, I hope that they see a lot of wins this year, certainly more than what we had last year."
As for what kind of leadership he is looking for from those sophomores, "Those guys set the tone," Michael said. "They have an understanding of what college baseball is all about now. There are no surprises for them. They know how we run things, how we operate. They're going to be the ones that everybody else is looking to to teach them what we do on roadtrips, what's our pregame routine like, all that sort of stuff that those guys know firsthand. It's unspoken things. I don't look for anybody that's rah-rah. I don't want anybody to be somebody that they're not. I want leadership to come from doing the right things and showing up every day and working hard."
Michael and his sophomores will be guiding a roster that is full of new faces, and with that may come some growing pains.
"So we're young," Michael said, "and with young usually comes some ups and downs, some bigger swings than I would prefer. We would like to be same talent but all sophomores, but everybody would like that. Our biggest task is going to be to try to keep the guys moving forward, and when things aren't so great staying positive, and when things are really good making sure that they don't get too big a head about it where they kind of lose their way and forget the things that made them successful in the first place."
Michael still thinks some of the new talent he has on his roster this year will be able to contribute right away.
"Our lineup is going to be a little bit better this year," Michael said. "We're a little bit deeper. I have a legitimate group of guys that can swing the bat, not just 1-9 but past that. We'll have guys every game that are on the bench that are viable starting players, and that's a good problem to have. I'm hoping that I can mix and match enough where guys stay happy and stay content, but it might be a little bit of an issue with this team because our lineup is a little deeper this year. Pitching wise, we don't really have a stud squad of aces all over the place, but we have a good group of arms and it's deeper this year."
Michael said one of the biggest aspects of the game that he is constantly stressing to his team is their mental approach.
"Mental approach to me is keeping a level head about yourself, not allowing yourself to be taken out of the game or out of an at bat or out of a pitch, allowing yourself to stay focused on the job at hand," Michael said. "A lot of that comes from putting in the work in the off-season. If you put in the work in the off-season, then it makes it easier for you to focus and bear down when the time calls for it. We're going to play a lot of games. It's easy to kind of lax a little bit if you're not prepared, but if you're prepared, then you're going to go hard and full bore, and that's the mental approach that we try to preach here."
Ultimately, Michael said the onus of putting together a winning season for CSM will fall on him. "It's going to be up to us as a coaching staff to put guys in the right places, and that's both in the lineup and on the mound at the right time. Our successes are really going to fall on how well we coach game situations."
The Hawks will finally be able to put everything they have been working on in the off-season to the test this weekend.
"The guys are itching, they're ready to go," Michael said. "We've put in a lot of work, several months worth of work, and the guys have taken to it really well. They've worked hard and they're ready."