The College of Southern Maryland baseball team will return to competition for the first time in nearly a year when they host the Potomac State College of WVU Catamounts on March 6 for their opening game of the 2021 regular season. The Hawks will take on the Catamounts in a doubleheader in La Plata, Maryland, with first pitch of Game 1 set for 1 p.m.
The last time the Hawks played against somebody other than themselves was on March 11, 2020, when they swept a doubleheader at home against Ulster County Community College. The COVID-19 pandemic caused the rest of the season to be cancelled.
This will be Michael's fifth season as head coach at CSM. Last year was looking like it was going to be one of his best, as the Hawks were off to an 11-5 record while averaging a little more than eight runs a game.
But, Michael said, every season is different, and he isn't necessarily expecting this team to pick up right where last year's team left off.
"Every year is different; some players stay but the entire team chemistry changes," Michael said. "I would love to get back on a roll like last year but we can't just duplicate it - we have to work hard to find this year's identity, to find this year's success."
Michael said having repeated success from third-year players Trevor Drummond, who was named to the 2019 All-Region XX Division II Honorable Mention Team, Peyton Myers, and Dylan Bell should help the Hawks get off to a great start like last year. While he's also looking for repeat performances from second-year players Eli Wilhelm and Ethan Zorbaugh, he noted that "every player on the roster has a role to play and each one is vital to the success of the team."
"The returning players bring a level of experience and confidence to the team; they should help the team get off on the right foot," Michael said.
When last season ended, Myers and Wilhelm led the team in runs with 17. Drummond was first in hits with 20 with Wilhelm right behind at 18 and Myers at 17. Myers had the most home runs with three, Wilhelm had two, and Drummond and Zorbaugh each had one. Wilhelm ended the year with a .450 batting average and an .800 slugging percentage.
On the pitching mound, Bell and Zorbaugh each started four games. Zorbaugh collected three wins and 24 strikeouts over 24 innings pitched. Bell picked up a win, a complete game shutout, and nine strikeouts over 17 innings pitched. Zorbaugh finished with a 1.50 ERA while Bell had a 3.71 ERA.
Michael is still preparing his team the best he can to get a new season underway.
"The team has had new challenges this year that we don't encounter with most seasons, so we have had to coach to new circumstances, which has helped keep us focused on the bigger picture and trying to put our players in positions to be successful," Michael said. "We have been trying to get them to focus on small parts of the game, the things they can control, and try to treat it like a normal game, but we understand there is likely to be some overexuberance early on.
"Excitement is an understatement for our players."
For Michael, he is most excited about "simply getting back out onto the field, competing and representing our college in the best manner we can. Our school and the administration has done a great job in navigating the uncertainty surrounding the last calendar year, and because of that, we are given an opportunity to begin to bring back a sense of normality to the school, and we are very excited about that opportunity."