The Duhawks began their season a week later than expected as their opening series in Jacksonville, Ill. was cancelled due to poor weather. This meant that the team’s annual trip to Florida would be the start for their season. The team began their season on a hot start winning their first four games. The team showed off their resiliency as they had to fight their way back from being down early in the game.
Their most notable comeback was in game two as the Duhawks were down by eight runs after two innings. However, clutch relief pitching, and the offense cutting the lead down, scoring a few runs every inning, rallied the team back to win the game. A clutch player of that game was first-year pitcher Ethan Peters. Peters was making his inaugural appearance and threw an inning to seal the victory, he had two strikeouts on the night. When asked about his mindset as he was entering the game Peters said,
“I just try my best to do whatever I have to, do what I need to get done with as little problems as possible. It comes pretty easy ’cause pitching relaxes my mind.”
Contributions from unexpected people have happened early and often for the Duhawks thus far this season. First-year Edward Erickson for the Duhawks has pitched well in his appearances having a statline of 5.00 ERA over nine innings. Another emerging star for the Duhawks has been first-year Dakota Church, who’s defensive contributions as well as base running capabilities has earned him five starts this year so far. This has allowed Coach Tebon some flexibility when composing the lineup. For example, with Church earning the trust of both the pitching staff and Coach Tebon he has given senior catcher Cole Thompson some rest and have him bat as the designated hitter (DH). As Church adds,
“It’s important to me to have earned the trust of the team as well as the coaching staff. I believe in all of them and they all believe in me. Being a young guy never worried me, knowing I have my team and T behind me, brings me confidence on the field.”
This past weekend, March 16 and 17, the Duhawks flocked to Carol Stream to play two games each against Northland College and Aurora University. Hoping to build off the successes of the Florida trip, the team was eager to get started on the weekend. The first game went according to plan as the Duhawks beat Northland College with a score of 7-1. The second was a completive battle with the Duhawks having to make another comeback late in the games. Unfortunately, for the Duhawks being in so many close matchups thus far, this season has led to some unfortunate outcomes. For the first three loses the Duhawks have received this season, all of them have come in walkoff fashion. This means that the Duhawks have been in every game they have played thus far this season.
On Sunday, March 17, the Duhawks did not need any luck in their second game against Northland in the weekend winning with a comfortable lead and the final score of 16-9. However, for the second time that weekend, it came down to the final inning before the game was decided. The Duhawks led most of the game by stellar pitching from sophomore Erik Edminster. Unfortunately, a few balls did not bounce in the Duhawks’ favor and the Aurora Spartans tied up the game at 3. In the bottom to the eighth, the Spartans tagged the Duhawks for one more. The Duhawks were unable to rally in the ninth, dropping the second game.
There are a lot of positives to take away from this past weekend’s series. But they are not as important as the fight and the desire to win that this team shows. As senior starting left fielder Jake Oglesby said,
“It’s incredibly relaxing because we know that no matter the situation, we refuse to quit and will do the little things one play at a time. As a position player, it helps because we know that we don’t have to do too much and we can focus on our jobs because we can trust that the next guy will do theirs. I believe we are ready for conference. Conference is all about how you play as a team and not as individuals. Right now, I believe we are playing team baseball that will result in the year we expect to have.”
The Duhawks hope to get back on the right path as conference play begins next weekend. The Duhawks were scheduled to host, but if Petrakis is unable to play, the games may be moved to Nebraska.