The country’s top-ranked baseball team is looking to repeat last season’s success in 2022.
Salisbury University's Sea Gulls, led by Head Coach Troy Brohawn, had a spectacular 2021 season, finishing with an overall record of 34-4 and a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III National Championship victory, all amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team is ranked atop the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Preseason Poll and hopes to continue its reign over the nation's best programs.
“We returned a lot of guys [from last season, and] ... the goal has been to not have them feel the pressure of having to repeat anything,” Brohawn said. “It should [just] be chasing another [title].”
SU ended the 2021 season on a 14-game winning streak, during which the Sea Gulls hit a combined team batting average of .361 with 14 home runs. The team’s defense stepped up as well, allowing a combined earned run average of 2.87 through the season.
Third baseman Luke Weddell and pitcher Benji Thalheimer each played an important role in last year's success. The two standouts recently received honors as the Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference's Player of the Week and Pitcher of the Week, respectively.
Thalheimer threw four scoreless innings and notched one strikeout against Alfred State College in SU’s opening match Feb. 12.
With the loss of star pitcher Clay Dwyer, Thalheimer has big shoes to fill in 2022.
“Since we lost one of our best starters [in Dwyer], my goal is to fill in that role as best as possible,” he said.
Practice will be key to both the pitcher and team’s success.
“Our practices are a lot more focused,” Thalheimer said. “We’re trying to physically prepare but also mentally prepare for our games."
Following a disappointing weekend with losses to second-ranked Courtland State University and unranked Widener University, SU looks to bounce back into another dominant season across the C2C.
By ZACK KONGOLO
Featured image courtesy of Brad Boardman.