As head coach Mike Leonard gears up for his fifth season at the helm of the men’s baseball team, a giddy excitement surrounds the team and the players who decided to return.
The team will field a squad of 15 players this spring, consisting of 11 first-year players and four sophomores — all underclassmen — as opposed to last year’s team of 34 players.
While Leonard expects the team to be competitive, he emphasized that this season will be focused on player development.
“We are not talking about stats and win-losses,” Leonard claimed. “We are trying to figure out what information we are going to learn about our group and the individual players from these competitive opportunities so that they can take that information and apply it to their long-term growth.”
Since Middlebury’s NESCAC season was canceled in the spring of 2020, none of the current rostered players have played in a game at Middlebury before. It’s a weird predicament and an unfortunate product of the times, but one that opens the door for young players to impress.
One of the many players expected to assume a larger role both on and off the field is pitcher Andrew Gatland ’23.
“I’m really excited,” Gatland said. “I’m going to be pitching every weekend which probably would not have happened otherwise. It’s going to be a great opportunity for me to prove myself and get comfortable playing college baseball.”
The baseball team will play four doubleheaders against Williams, Wesleyan, Hamilton and Amherst this season, with plans for postseason play still to be determined.