After finishing the 2014 season with a record of 39-12 and going all the way to the NCAA Division II West Regionals, the California Baptist University baseball team is expected to go even farther in 2015.
Gary Adcock, head coach of the baseball team, said this season will be different from the last not only because the team is well-rounded, but also because five seniors are blazing a trail as the first group of players who never competed in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. He also said he believes this year’s club will be better and stronger.
“The club we had last year was a West Region playoff club, and we haven’t gone backward. Our strengths are different,” Adcock said. “We are in the mix to compete at a regional level again.”
Multiple preseason polls have CBU projected to win its fifth conference championship and the team boasts the league’s Player of the Year in Andy Crowley, senior criminal justice major and outfielder. With Crowley a part of a unique line-up of seniors, Adcock said he is confident the team’s weaknesses from last season will turn into strengths this year.
Crowley has played for the Lancers since his freshman year. He spent a considerable amount of time during his high school career as a pitcher before coming on as a centerfielder at CBU in 2011. He said he is looking forward to spending time with teammates and working to get to the postseason.
“We’re trying to win it all, trying to take the season as far as we can,” Crowley said. “We won the conference title our first two years here so we’re going to try to bring the conference title back. Hopefully we make it all the way to the conference championship and bring it home. We know what we’re prepared for, we can do it, we just have to go out and play our game to accomplish that goal.”
In addition to Crowley, there are four other seniors on the team: Andrew Montoya, senior criminal justice major and in-fielder; David Herd, senior exercise science major and pitcher; Michael Davis, senior biology major and pitcher; and Nathan Antoun, senior kinesiology major and outfielder.
Each of these seniors has encountered his own struggles throughout his career at CBU. Some came in as true freshmen, and others transferred from other schools, but they all were able to come together and persevere through all of the challenges.
“There’s so many layers to the group,” Adcock said. “The bottom line is they’ve been our flag bearers for this transition (to the NCAA), and they’ve done it respectfully, they’ve done it in a way that honors the university and themselves. They’ve put us in a position where the team can be considered one of the best Division II teams in the West, which is pretty impressive for them to have accomplished that in such a short period of time.”
Antoun said being paired with the other seniors has been one of the best experiences.
“We come in every year with the mindset to win a national title, and this year is no different. We made it to the playoffs last season, and I know all the seniors are hungry to get there again,” Antoun said. “We still have a lot to accomplish before we leave here.”
Adding depth and improving offense and defense will be key to the Lancers’ success for the 2015 season. With Herd only nine wins away from being the winningest pitcher in CBU’s history and an all-conference shortstop in Montoya, the baseball team looks to go as far as their skill will carry them.