If attitude were all it took for the Chesapeake baseball team to make it to the playoffs, the Skipjacks would be flirting with a Maryland Junior College Athletic Association championship.
They couldn’t be more sharply focused.
“The work ethic of this team has been outstanding,” said Chesapeake coach Frank Szymanski, who is in his 18th season. “Their effort at practice and their concentration has been great. We really see a lot of potential in this team.”
Szymanski strongly believes his Skipjacks can duplicate last year’s success, when the team won 32 games.
So far, Chesapeake has fashioned a 5-3 record.
“We are just going to have to get good pitching, excellent defense and timely hitting,” Szymanski said. “We are playing well, eliminating mistakes and we have had a couple of big innings offensively, which have pushed us through.”
Szymanski can’t complain about a lack of pitching.
From returning sophomore starters Brian Tribbett, Trevor Gill, and Ty Michaud to freshmen Garrett Lutkins, Jason McDonough and Michael YaSenka, the Skipjacks are well-armed.
“Our pitching has been solid,” the coach said. “We are deep in starters and our bullpen has been coming along.”
Tribbett and Michaud anchored the pitching staff in 2016, and they are building on that success this season.
Tribbett, a right-hander, posted a sterling 6-1 record and 2.75 ERA in 2016.
He possesses an excellent three-pitch repertoire, which includes a fastball, curveball and change-up.
“He throws those pitches any time during the count, which is beneficial,” Szymanski said. “He really keeps the ball down and throws a lot of strikes.”
Chesapeake’s freshmen pitchers can learn by watching Tribbett.
“He goes the extra mile,” Szymanski said. “He is a guy that comes early to practice and stays late. He shows excellent leadership skills. He is not a very vocal guy. He leads by example, and players watch him.”
Michaud tied Tribbett for the team lead in wins (6) last year and ranked first in innings pitched (59).
Michaud could be on his way on his way to an even better campaign this spring. He hasn’t given up an earned run in nine innings while yielding three hits and striking out seven batters.
Michaud, a right-hander, throws a fastball, curveball, slider and change-up.
“His strengths are his durability and the ability to throw any pitch for a strike at any time,” Szymanski said. “He works quickly and changes speeds well. He also works extremely hard with his conditioning and his gamesmanship.”
The pitching staff has been working with freshman catcher Trent Koerner, who’s had an immediate impact with both his bat and glove.
He’s splitting time with sophomore Nick Gardner.
“We are relying on him a lot,” Szymanski said of Koerner. “He runs well for a catcher and is a tough out. He gives a great target, blocks the ball well and throws well. He has the tools of an excellent catcher.”
Whoever stands on the mound will get solid offensive support.
The Skipjacks are averaging 6.6 runs per game.
Sophomores Eddie Nevins (batting. 381, 2 home runs, 6 RBIs) and Tyson Troscinski (4 home runs, 14 RBI) and Tyler Galazin (hitting .450) are among the team’s hitting leaders.
Nevins earned MJCAA First-Team honors last year by clubbing 13 home runs and driving in 63 runs.
Troscinski, a transfer from Dakota County Technical College in Minnesota, may challenge Nevins for the club lead in home runs.
Troscinski hit two grand slams in the team’s 16-7 season-opening win over the College of Southern Maryland.
“Our offense is where it needs to be,” Chesapeake assistant coach Danny Miller said. “I think we have come out a little hotter than we have in previous years. We have guys that can hit the ball, get on base, and we have a lot of speed. We have a balanced offense.”