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Play Ball: Eastern’s baseball team prepares for their return to the mound.

As many teams wind down their seasons, Eastern’s baseball team is just getting started. Led by Coach Scott Renauro, an Eastern baseball alum, the team is trying their best to stay positive as they navigate their first season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a roster full of new faces and new protocol set in place, the Eagles are hoping for a good season in 2021.

Last season, the team played a mere 10 games before the University sent students home and the NCAA canceled all athletics for the year. “It was devastating,” said Renauro. “Within a matter of two hours, we were completely shut down… the sadness of being told we were not playing this year was a shame for the whole team, but especially the seniors.” Dominique Johnson, one of many seniors who lost out on their senior season due to COVID, said that he knew it was “the right thing to do” but given the fact that it was his last year with the team, he “wasn’t prepared to just let go like that.”

While the team was getting ready for the season, both coaches and players were getting used to the new COVID protocol. COVID testing three times a week is not the only hurdle the team faces; they have to spread out in the dugout, mask up while in close contact, and keep track of their symptoms. While Renauro says that these protocols are keeping the team safe, it has hindered the camaraderie that is typically seen in the dugout.

Along with the stresses of COVID, the team saw nineteen first-years join the team. With a large number of rookies on the team, some might not be optimistic. Renauro, however, sees a tight-knit group that bonded in the most unusual of circumstances. “They’re going through it together,” said Renauro, “it’s building their bond even closer.” This sentiment was echoed by the first-year players as well; pitcher Sean Cottrell said the closeness of the team was a highlight of his experience so far.

As far as gameplay goes, the team has an overall optimistic approach. Junior Matt McHale said that he is “very hopeful” about the season.“We have a team with some decent talent and a ton of potential,” said the outfielder, “I don’t think everyone realizes it yet.” With a strong pitching rotation that includes ace Mickey Foytik, senior Tyler Bennett, sophomore Henry Hutchinson, John Beck, as well as Cottrell, the Eagles are hoping to have a strong season of play.

With the support of family, friends, coaches, and teammates, the Eagles are trying their best to have a fun season filled with strong offensive and defensive play. To check when their next game is, check goeasterneagles.com.

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