AU baseball looks to build on 2018 season



An AU pitchers throws a pitch during the 2018 season.

Mason Jones

It may be cold outside, but the Ashland University baseball team is certainly keeping warm inside with indoor practices, workouts and exercises to prepare for the upcoming 2019 season.

AU was recently selected to win the GLIAC championship in the preseason coaches poll prior to the start of the 2019 season and was projected to finish fourth in the Midwest Region.

The Eagles are looking again to be included in the postseason, where last year the team made it all the way to the NCAA II Midwest Regionals, only to be defeated by Ohio Dominican.

The Eagles, who had a record of 33-22 in 2018, are looking to go further than last season as they have a solid group of returning veterans.

“We have seven of our nine position starters returning, as well as more confident starting pitchers and relief pitchers,” AU head coach John Schaly said.

Schaly is in his 22nd year coaching the Eagles and has four college world series appearances as well as 15 postseason appearances. Schaly has nothing but confidence in his 2019 team as they continue to work hard and remain a top team in the region.

“The main thing is to take one day at a time, don’t worry about tomorrow’s game or the next game after that, think about what is happening today and focus on the now rather than the later,” Schaly said.

With the Eagles first game just a week away on Feb. 23, Schaly is eager to begin play as well as the rest of the team.

AU sophomore Micah Allen connects with a pitch during a game in the 2018 season.

“Our guys have had a good fall season and are working hard in the weight room and at practice,” Schaly said. “We have been practicing indoors due to the weather, but once the weather begins to warm up we’ll be out on the field.”

Not only does Schaly have a lot of confidence in his team, but the players with a strong returning roster are confident in themselves.

Two of those Eagles include junior first baseman Carson Mittermaier who was named to the Preseason All-Midwest Region first team and senior starting pitcher Devin Peters who was named to the second team.

The right-hander Peters finished the 2018 season with an 8-5 record and a 4.32 ERA along with four complete games. Peters led the GLIAC in innings pitched (89 ⅔) and strikeouts (98).

Peters said that the team as a whole is capable of accomplishing much more when everyone pushes each other to be the best they can be.

“We have a lot of returning players, which is huge since we had some clicks with each other last year but this year it’s one big brotherhood, which will help us push through a lot of the harder innings throughout the year as our brotherhood will help get through a lot more,” Peters said.

Sam Rice, a senior right-handed pitcher, had little time to throw the ball since he had to undergo Tommy John surgery last year, which resulted with him having a short season. However, he said that he is ready to go for the 2019 season.

“I think we had a good year last year, I think a lot of the guys on the team were younger, and making it to the postseason definitely helped us get a lot of good experience, so that will definitely help us this year,” Rice said.

Rice is ready to play this season since his time was limited due to his surgery, and now that he is healthy again, he’s ready to step up to the mound and play some ball.

“This year I will be a relief pitcher, and I will throw around two to three times a week,” Rice said.

Every player on this team wants the same goal as last year, and that is to make it to the postseason.

“Hopefully we can make it farther in the tournament than we did last year,” Rice said.

The Eagles are scheduled to face Rockhurst University, followed by Trevecca Nazarene University on Feb. 23 for their first two games of the season.

The season for baseball is a long and rugged journey, but the AU Eagles are taking that challenge head on as they are prepared to play every game at full throttle as they try to make their way to the postseason once again.