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Wofford baseball achieves strongest start in team’s Division I era

Senior+James+Plaisted+at+bat+against+Boston+College.+The+Terriers+won+the+game.
Senior James Plaisted at bat against Boston College. The Terriers won the game.

THE CLOSE-KNIT GROUP OF PLAYERS SHOWS PROMISE FOR THE 2015 SEASON–

Last year, Wofford’s baseball team fell to Samford in the semi- finals of the Southern Conference tournament. The team completed their season with a record of 32-28 overall, achieving their first winning record since 1992 and their first since becoming a Division I program. Head Coach Todd Interdonato has even higher expectations for this season.

“Last year we made a jump forward instead of a step forward. We expect to be better this year than we were last year,” Interdonato says.

This year the Terriers began their season with a 7-0 winning streak, which is the strongest start in the team’s Division I era. Interdonato attributes a large part of the team’s early success to the players’ offseason individual work.

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“I could tell that nobody took any time off,” Interdonato says. “[The players] actually had improved from the end of the fall to the beginning of the spring instead of plateauing out or taking a step backwards. They were better than they were when they left for Christmas break, and they really held themselves accountable.”

The team’s defense has always been strong; however, the Terriers have been more successful with their offensive game thus far.

“We haven’t played quite as sound of defense as we would’ve liked so far, but I think that will be a strength for us as we get into the rhythm of the season. We have been doing better offensively than we anticipated,” Interdonato says.

Senior pitcher Connell Anderson agrees.

“One thing that has been a pleasant surprise is that we’ve been hitting for power a lot more than we expected to,” Anderson adds. “We’re hitting a lot of doubles and more home runs than usual.”

Interdonato also says how important team chemistry will be to having a successful season.

“There’s so much downtime in baseball that team chemistry is of the utmost importance. I think one of our advantages is how well our players get along.”

Anderson adds how the team is particularly close this year.

“This is the probably the closest group we’ve had in my four years. Guys are a little more confident in themselves and in each other.”

Concerning conference play, Georgia Southern, last year’s conference champion, has left the conference as well as Elon, Appalachian State, and Davidson. Mercer, ETSU, and VMI have joined the conference. Interdonato believes that the Terriers have a great opportunity to be successful in the new conference.

“I think the preseason polls were pretty jumbled because nobody knows what to expect. Having last year in the back of the players’ heads will help them have confidence both individually and collectively,” the coach says.

However, Interdonato explains the importance of not dwelling on last year’s success too much and turning focus to the season that lies ahead.
“We just try to wipe the slate clean and build from step one again because you have to lay a good foundation every year.”

In addition to having new teams join the Southern Conference, the Terriers have added new personnel to the coaching staff. J.T. Maguire joined the coaching staff in the fall as a volunteer assistant and has been contributing to coaching the mental side of the game.

“J.T. has been a really good sounding board for our guys and talks to them about the mental approach and how to handle failure, success and how to think through everything,” Interdonato says. “Baseball is a very thinking-man’s game, we have an incredibly intelligent team.”

Anderson explains exactly how the coaches help with the mental aspect of baseball.

“Something the coaches preach is taking it one pitch at a time, one inning at a time, one game at a time, and focusing on your immediate next step.”

Interdonato explains his eagerness to see the team chemistry, mental side of the game, and the skill sets of the players come together throughout the season.

 

“I am most excited about seeing what this team is going to look like late in the year. I think we have a chance to be a good team; we’ve gotten off to a pretty good start, but I’m most excited to see when everyone gets more comfortable and develop deeper relationships what it looks like.”

Interdonato encourages the Wofford community to come out and support the team this spring.

“I think we play an exciting type of baseball,” Interdonato says, and he is not wrong; the Terriers led the nation in stolen bases last year with 153. “If people come out and watch, they will see how excitable and energetic our dugout is. The players create an electric atmosphere.”

—Tanner Kaplan

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