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INA, Ill. (Aug. 26, 2013) – Though the first official game is months away, the Rend Lake College Warrior Baseball team is heading in to scrimmage games to help build on their successes from last year.
Head Coach Tony Etnier said that these fall practices will be key to preparing both the new freshmen and returning players for their spring games. He added that this season’s defense is already in good shape.
“We have a talented group, but that means nothing if our skill level isn’t where it needs to be in the spring,” said Etnier. “We have a very young team as well which means we have a lot of guys who have a lot to learn. We try to outwork our opponents every day at practice, during conditioning, and in the weight room. We have some guys who can run, and some guys who can swing it, and most importantly, I think we will be solid defensively, so we won’t beat ourselves very often.”
As the semester starts, Etnier said that he’s looking for those athletes who work to stand out from the group as leaders.
“I think we have a lot of guys who have a chance to be really good in their roles,” he said. “It’s always nice to see the fruits of your labor, so when guys start pulling away from the pack and establish themselves as contenders, that’s great to see.”
Last year, the Warriors went 37-18 in regular season, with 2-2 in postseason, and a record of 17-7 in the GRAC (Great Rivers Athletic Conference). Etnier said that he hopes to see some returning players step up to the plate as they did last spring.
“Without naming names, we have a few returning pitchers that gave us quality innings last year and some freshman pitchers who have really nice arms as well,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing who the guys are who are going to establish themselves as our key players. We have a couple of sophomores who should definitely be in the mix and get some playing time, but once again there are a lot of freshman who are competing for spots as well.”
In the world of academics, Etnier plans to maintain the high standard for his players. Last year, the Warrior’s Baseball team was nationally recognized for their 3.02 team GPA.
“We had a team GPA over 3.0 last year and I absolutely plan on repeating that, so they need to get to class early, get to study hall, and use their time efficiently,” said Etnier. “It’s a long year with a lot of opportunity for improvement athletically. With that being said, one thing they can’t forget is that they are a student first and an athlete second.”