Looking at the Eagles this season, it is hard to picture that the team was picked last in the Freedom Conference Preseason poll. Now, the voters are scratching their heads.
The team has been nothing but stellar this season as they have kept in the playoff chase all year. They also set a record with wins in the program.
Eastern captured its 20th win on April 24, breaking the previous program record of 18.
That is pretty impressive for a team that only won three games last season, none of them in the conference.
“We used being picked last as motivation,” senior team leader Ramon Reyes said. “They had no clue what we could do this year. I knew we had the potential to be a great team this season. We were determined to win.”
The Eagles have been winning in bunches. The team went on a four game winning streak early in April and then won five games in a week span in the middle of the same month, which included a 24-8 rout of Valley Forge Christian College.
You ask how good is this year’s team?
Last season, the Eagles scored double-digit runs four times, while holding opponents to single-digit runs just eight times.
This season, the Eagles scored double-digit runs nine times, which have all resulted in wins. The pitching staff has buckled down limiting opponent’s offenses to five runs or less nine times this season.
As a catcher, one of Reyes’ responsibilities is to control the pitching staff. He has seen the difference this year with his troops.
“Last year, our weakness was pitching,” Reyes said. “We didn’t have a number one starter. The lack of quality pitchers didn’t help; this year has been much different.”
Head Coach Matt Midkiff agrees with his catcher. “Our pitchers have set the tone this season,” he said. “If we have a good performance by our starting pitcher, play defense well and hit the ball, then we can bring home a win.”
Speaking of bringing a win home, the Eagles have only been defeated three times on their home field.
“You have to give credit to the coaching staff,” Reyes said. “They do a great job on preparing us daily.”
With better pitching came better hitting. The Eagles’ offense now scores multiple runs at a time. The team boasts middle infielders sophomore Scott Renauro and senior Dan Garcia who both have collected over 50 hits this season, a program record. The team has been able to come through in the clutch with numerous come-from-behind victories.
“Our team is so cool and calm,” Midkiff said. “I think we are so young that we don’t know how to be nervous. If we stay focused from the first pitch to the last, we always come out on top.”
The team also has at least four players with 20 RBIs. Renauro and Garcia have at least 30 a piece. Last season, only two players had at least 20 RBIs, and no one had knocked more than 21 runs in.
“Our hitting coach, Ray D’Orazio, has helped us tremendously with our swing,” Reyes said. “He can tell us what we are doing wrong just by watching us take swings.”
“The coaching staff works their butts off,” Midkiff said. “I wouldn’t have any other coaching staff in the world.”
With a different approach, the Eagles have been able to turn the program around in just a year.
“It may sound silly to some people, but my goal is to win a national championship at Eastern,” Midkiff said. “Our staff will do anything they can do to make that happen.”