With the world still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Muhlenberg baseball team looked to play their first game since being sent home last March. However, due to health and safety protocols, their opening day game has been postponed to Mar. 27.
With teams having to adjust to this new reality, players like Truman Devitt ‘20 are realizing the difficulty of these transitions. “There has definitely been an adjustment needed to get used to the COVID protocols,” said Devitt. “For the first week of practices, we couldn’t even throw a baseball, so that was something we had to just accept and move on from in order to get where we want to be. It obviously isn’t easy to adjust to everything, but we are just thankful that we are getting a chance to have a season.”
Teammate Robert Cappadona ‘21 also notes the complications that have come with this season. “It has definitely been an adjustment practicing this year compared to prior years,” said Cappadona. “There’s a lot of moving parts with things like COVID testing, masking and not having large groups together at one time at practice. We’re just happy to get the chance to play, though.
As hard as it has been for teams to adjust to these new standards, it’s clear that the players are grateful to be having a season when many schools are not. That does not mean, though, that the season has gotten off to the start they wanted, as their opener was postponed.
“The whole team was frustrated. We’ve been working really hard the past few weeks and we had March 20 circled on our calendars for a while,” said Devitt. “At the same time, it has only fueled us more. We are really hoping that everything goes smoothly this week so we can open up on March 27th because we feel really good about the team we have this year.”
As much as they would have loved to get started last Saturday, the team realizes the obstacles that come with this pandemic. “Although we were eager to get started, we did know that this season would look a lot different than normal years. I think we all just tried to stay positive and stay prepared for a season,” said Cappadona. “The announcement eventually came and we’re just excited to get back on the field even if it’s a little later than usual.”
The team looks to hopefully build on their success from last year, before the pandemic forced their season to come to a premature end. Luckly, this team has had great coaches who have been working hard to help their players make the necessary adjustments. “Our coaches have been great throughout this whole process. It isn’t easy to adjust to everything, but they have been in our corner all year advocating for us and doing everything they can to encourage us,” said Devitt. “They have been saying that a lot of teams aren’t even getting the chance to play this season, including some Division 1 teams. So, every time something goes wrong, they just remind us that we are lucky to have a scheduled season right now. That has motivated us to keep working until we finally get our chance to play.”
Cappadona has also found inspiration from Coach Gross and the staff. “The coaching staff has done a great job preparing us for the season,” he said. “The coaches always push us to play with high energy at all times and that’s when we’re at our best.”
Beyond encouraging the Mules to acknowledge the incredible opportunity they have, the staff has been helping to keep the team game ready. While this is not the start they may have envisioned, they are always reminding them that one postponement does not mean that there is no season and to stay focused on what the team wants to achieve this season.
“Our goal for this season is to compete for a conference championship,” said Devitt. “There are 8 teams competing this year and with everything being condensed to two games per week, we really think we have a solid chance to make some noise this season.”
Given the schedule that the team has and only needing to focus on conference opponents, the Mules have a great chance to string together wins and explode out of the gates.
With a strong rotation and deep lineup, Muhlenberg baseball is in a prime position to put the Centennial Conference on notice. Should there be no hiccups in the health and safety protocols, the team will open against Gettysburg at home next Saturday, Mar. 27, in a two-game series.