Despite Mother Nature’s struggle to bring lasting warmth to campus, Muhlenberg baseball’s first pitch is scheduled for Feb. 26. Ryan Hebert ‘22, a two-time Centennial Conference Academic Honor Roll award recipient and an All-Centennial Conference second team player, is looking forward to playing a full length season this year. Hebert says, “Last year we were only allowed to play 14 conference games, mostly all on Saturdays. Typically, we play a 40-game, 5-game-per-week schedule. I haven’t had the chance to play in a season like this since high school.”
During both of Hebert’s sophomore and junior years he led the team in batting average, hits, triples and runs scored from the lead-off spot in the lineup. When asked about how he plans on taking his game to the next level, the self-proclaimed team dad instead took the opportunity to exhibit what a true team player he is. He responded, “There’s a chance my role can shift this year from a true lead-off hitter to more of a middle of the lineup guy, which I’m excited for. I’ve always cared more about getting on base but this year I’d like to provide more of a power focus, regardless of my position in the lineup. The expectation is to have a lot of our guys making an impact this year. There may be positions with rotating starters, and I’d hope to make an impact on the young guys getting acclimated to college baseball. Trying to be the best leader possible is hard; I’m sure if you asked some of the guys they’d refer to me as the dad of the team, so maybe I need to work on a little balance.”
When discussing the Centennial Conference Preseason Poll, in which Muhlenberg was projected to come in 7th place, Hebert stated that the team was not surprised but just “extremely eager to get outside and prove something. Being picked third to last isn’t a surprise, just a free bit of motivation.”
As the Mules continue to prepare for the upcoming season and work to prove the haters wrong, Hebert believes, “We have a relatively balanced team this year between new faces and returning starters. We had a few freshmen make an impact last year that I’d still consider rookies given how short and different the season was last year. Even most of our senior class has played less than a full season, but from practice so far our expectations are really high.”
Reflecting on his career at Muhlenberg, two memories stand out to Hebert the most. “The first thing that comes to mind is our yearly spring training trip to Central Florida. Obviously missing this experience last year, we’re all really excited to get another opportunity to play in the warm weather and have that experience together as a team.”
Hebert also spoke about his experience making the playoffs and experiencing the Centennial Conference postseason. “Unfortunately I missed my entire first year with an injury and didn’t get to participate, but it was still an awesome team experience.”
Fellow veteran, Donovan Brady ‘22, believes the roster constructed right now can cause some noise this season, “We have a lot of talented guys this year as a pitching staff with great chemistry. Many guys are gonna have opportunities to go out and help win games and it’s gonna be awesome to see everyone competing on the field. The whole team energy is high and we are just excited to start playing this year.”
The Mules will open spring play Feb. 26, as they will travel to our nation’s capital to compete in the Gallaudet Bison Classic.