Though the Maroon team triumphed in a 6-4 victory, the bats were alive in the fall’s final scrimmage for both teams, with Maroon and Gold combining for 18 hits on the day. With the final win, the Maroon took the series by a 4-2-1 margin in the third fall under Bethune-Cookman Head Coach Jason Beverlin.
The Wildcats worked to break in 19 new players in the fall, including 11 new pitchers. Although the bullpen commanded the early days of fall ball, the Wildcats hitters progressed throughout the fall and became more dominant and confident as the final day rolled around.
“We came a long way from day one,” senior designated hitter/outfielder Josh Johnson said. “Coach [Barrett] Shaft continued to work with us, in the cages, on the field and with our drill work. I feel like the confidence was the biggest thing in the beginning, and that’s what the hitters gained late in the series.”
Despite replacing long-term players at key positions, namely at first base and in two shades of the outfield, the Wildcats depth and versatility will play a major role in helping the team to succeed in the spring.
“I think that we’re very good defensively. Everybody plays their position well and everybody can also move around and play different positions,” senior Matt Noble said, taking his first fall at second after starting at third most of 2013. “That versatility will come into play greatly in the spring.”
A weakness from the 2013 squad that has not carried over to the fall is a deep and diverse bullpen. In 2013, the Wildcats used just 13 pitchers, with three coming over from the position player ranks. What a difference the recruiting class has made, as B-CU concluded fall ball with 19 pitchers on roster. Not to mention that the ‘Cats now boast five lefties, versus having just one last spring.
“It’s real nice,” senior right-hander Scott Garner said. “You can trust everybody, everyone’s able to throw strikes and throw all their pitches with command. Starters, relievers and closers, we’re ready to go.”
With the close of the practice session, the Wildcats also released the 2014 schedule on Wednesday. B-CU opens up the season on a seven-game homestand with a three-game series versus Cal State Northridge on Feb. 14, before opening Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play on the road in Tallahassee at Florida A&M.
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