After a subpar finish in the Big East last year, the Georgetown baseball team will open its new season at Charleston Southern for a three-game series beginning next Friday. During the offseason, many players joined summer teams and participated in a short fall season in attempts to address last year’s weaknesses.
Coach Pete Wilk is targeting the pitching staff as a major area for improvement. With an ERA more than two runs higher than the league average in 2011, Georgetown looks to significantly bring that number down to secure more victories in close games. The Hoyas lost 10 games last season by only one or two runs, making lowering ERA and total unearned runs a priority.
Wilk is sticking with the same foundation he has used for years, implementing minor tweaks in the team’s effort to develop stronger pitching. He believes this season’s team has the right mentality to make his strategy work.
“I do think there is enough competition within, I do think there is enough leadership,” he said. “I do think there is enough experience to understand that that’s what this team is going to have to do to win.”
Team hitting also remains a prevalent area in need of improvement. Wilk does not rely solely on batting average to determine the team’s line up, but instead uses a system that takes into account quality and productive at-bats. This alternative system assesses players on how well they execute with runners in scoring position, work to get on base, and put good swings on the ball.
“We’re grading kids’ at-bats. We call them positive at-bats, to contribute to a team victory,” Wilk said. “On-base percentage, moving runners, scoring runners, those things and that adds up to a clearer picture of a lineup in my opinion than just batting average.”
Pitch selection when at the plate will also be key to success in the Big East. Not only were the Hoyas behind the average in walks last year, but the squad also chased more third strikes than the league average.
With games every week for the next three months, the players are ready to get going, and hope to make some noise in the Big East. Junior outfielder Justin Leeson claims that the team has the right mindset in all areas of the game, and thinks the larger challenges in their out-of-conference schedule will only better prepare them for Big East play.
“Our out-of-conference schedule is tougher than in the past, and I think we have a chance to surprise some people,” he said.
Wilk has a positive outlook for this year’s team and its ability to contend with the league’s better schools. He is confident that with a solid set of position players that deserve to be on the field each day, Georgetown can make a more successful run than it has in the past.
“I expect us to compete for nine innings of every game,” he said. “I want our guys to end their day exhausted from competing, and I think if we can do that on a consistent basis we’re going to have a good club.”