The St. John’s baseball team has started off the season on a strong note.
The team traveled to U.S. Bank Stadium for two double headers in late February and early March. After going 3-1, the Johnnies traveled down south for their annual Florida trip later that week.
Going 6-4 in the Sunshine State, SJU now sits at a 9-5 record.
“Collectively, we played very well as a team,” sophomore pitcher Cameron Jurek said via email. “I think we all agreed that we could’ve been 10-0, but that’s just how baseball is sometimes. We played well down in Florida and we are going to play even better here in Minnesota.”
The Johnnies are coming off a solid 2016 season. They were the runner up at regionals, one mere game short of making the NCAA tournament.
There were plenty of positives to look back on from last season according to junior pitcher Ben Etzell, and he is looking forward to building off of them this season.
“I’m looking forward to playing alongside another great group of guys here at St. John’s and continuing to build on the success we have had the past couple of years,” Etzell said via email.
Jurek is looking forward to something a little different though.
“I’m looking forward to those 40 degree days with winds howling at about 20 mph,” Jurek said. “Because winning on days like that is just a little sweeter than winning on a warm sunny day.”
As we’ve seen in other sports this 2016-2017 season, the MIAC has proven to be extremely competitive.
Both Etzell and Jurek believe baseball won’t be an exception.
“There will not be one easy conference game all year,” Jurek said. “Each of the teams we played in the MIAC Tournament (St. Mary’s, St. Thomas and Hamline) will be just as good, if not better than last year. The MIAC itself will be our biggest competition.”
“As usual, St. Thomas, Bethel, St. Mary’s and Concordia will likely be the toughest [opponents],” Etzell said. “But no team is a slouch in the MIAC. No games will be taken lightly.”
When asked what their goals for the season were, the pair of pitchers’ responses were nearly identical; a National Championship.
“As a team, we are all taking the appropriate steps and our end game is the same,” Jurek said. “We want to win the MIAC Championship, we want to win the Regional Championship and we want to win the DIII World Series Championship. We’re here to win, so why not do it?”
“We improved on our 2015 performance last year by getting to the Regional Championship, but we all know we can go even further,” Etzell said. “We know what it takes, and I have no doubt that with the guys we have this year, we’ll get to the Regional Championship again and ultimately reach the DIII World Series and compete for a National Championship.”
The Johnnies have their home opener at 1 p.m. on Saturday April 1 where they will begin conference play and take on Bethel in a double header.
FEATURE PHOTO COURTESY OF LIBBY AUGER