Not many teams can claim three straight national championships, and even fewer can claim four.
This year CSU’s dynasty-seeking baseball team will try to do just that, as they take the field coming off of back-to-back-to-back national club titles.
“We don’t have a lot of changes,” said senior third baseman Caleb Bond, who was third in the country last season in home runs, with eight. “With coach coming back that will only help us with our comfort and familiarity.”
Coach Mike Abernathy will return for his second season at the helm for the Rams, the first time a coach has returned for a second year in the past five seasons for the program.
“I’m excited about it,” said junior outfielder Nick Stringari. “He was a good player and is a good coach; it’s great to play baseball at such a competitive level with such a good atmosphere.”
Notable departures for the team this season will be apparent in the middle infield as the Rams search for players to replace Brooks Purdy and David Schultz. Last season, the two finished first and second in the nation in hits notching 58 and 54, respectively. Bond was third on that list with 52 and could be the replacement at the shortstop position.
“I came out of high school as a shortstop,” Bond said. “In fact, my first year here I backed up Brooks before I moved to third.”
Also exiting is stand-out pitcher Thomas Ahrens. Ahrens led the nation in wins with 10 last season and was named the World Series MVP for the second time. He struck out 23 batters in just 19 innings and allowed only three runs as he went 2-0 with a save on the weekend in Niles, Ohio, in May.
“It will be exciting to see how we come back,” Stringari said. “Filling their shoes will be tough.”
Bond added that keeping focus throughout the long season will be the tough part, but losing the top of the order and the middle infield all in one swipe is especially difficult.
Looking to fill the starting rotation in Ahrens’ absence will be seniors Daniel Strawn, who notched eight wins last season, and Noah Wright, who has the ability to work late into games.
“I think our focus early will be to build the pitching staff,” Bond said.
Staff writer Aaron Schoonmaker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.