Carnegie Mellon club baseball nears end of fall season

Sophomore shortstop Rainer Nunez awaits a pitch from Robert Morris University.  (credit: Courtesy of Darryl Tan) Sophomore shortstop Rainer Nunez awaits a pitch from Robert Morris University. (credit: Courtesy of Darryl Tan) The Carnegie Mellon baseball team plays at the spring training event in Florida. (credit: Courtesy of Darryl Tan) The Carnegie Mellon baseball team plays at the spring training event in Florida. (credit: Courtesy of Darryl Tan)

As the Carnegie Mellon club baseball team’s fall season comes to a close at the end of the month, the team sits just over .500 with five wins and four losses.

Being a club team at the university, the team is not considered as competitive as the Division III sports on campus, but that doesn’t mean the student athletes who play aren’t serious about the sport.

The team, competing in the National Club Baseball Association (NCBA) league, started their season on Sept. 7 with a win against the Community College of Allegheny County South, and two more wins on Sept. 13 against the Boyce campus.

The following week, the team fell to the community college’s Boyce campus team in two close games, 8–6 and 7–5, respectively. The team suffered one more loss to Westminster College on Sept. 28 before overcoming Duquesne University with two wins and one loss in a three-game series on Oct. 4–5. The team’s biggest competitors are Robert Morris University, Saint Francis University, Duquesne, and the California University of Pennsylvania, as well as West Virginia University (WVU), which the team is scheduled to play on Oct. 25–26.

In addition to competing in the fall season, the team competes in the spring, playing a total of about 30 games over both seasons. The team traditionally travels to Florida at the start of spring break to take part in NCBA Spring Training, where they compete against teams outside of their main competitors’ pool.

“I came into school knowing I was going to play,” said senior pitcher, shortstop, and team president Darryl Tan. “I’ve been playing baseball my whole life, so joining the team was a no-brainer for me. It was a good way to meet people, sharing the passion I have for baseball with other people.”

Tan said that, while many players have joined the team with travel or high school experience, many have not had prior experience.

This year, the team lost five outgoing senior starters, but gained six first-year students. “The freshmen really stepped up. We got a good recruiting class,” Tan said of the incoming students.

Darren Kerfoot, junior pitcher, shortstop and team captain, said he joined the team his first-year at the university and made it known that he wanted to lead the team. “I wanted to express to the rest of the team how baseball should be played,” Kerfoot said.

He became the captain his sophomore year. During the fall 2013 season, the team swept WVU, which, according to Kerfoot, has not happened for several years. “I think this upcoming year, we’re going to be just fine,” Kerfoot said of this year’s rematch.

Tan said that, as the team moves forward, “We’re being more aggressive with our bats, taking more swings rather than taking walks, and getting quality swings in.” Tan said that, defensively, the team is hoping to limit physical errors and stay with tough hops.

“Our main goal is winning the conference and then really competing in the post–season, trying to get to ... the national championship,” said Kerfoot. “A good mental goal is to just be focused and play hard in every game — every practice — every time you have the opportunity to.”

Tan, a senior psychology and biological sciences major, said of balancing academics with playing on the team, “We always tell people that academics come first ... but at the same time, we have to be committed to the team and come to practice ... but if you have office hours or extra help during practice time, we always tell you just come ... get your swings in, get your work in before you go back to work which is always the main thing we want. You are here for academics.”

The team’s talents extend beyond baseball. The student athletes are currently the university’s reigning intramural dodgeball champions, and have played intramural softball in the past as well, according to Tan, who said that the team is also considering playing intramural basketball this year.