The baseball team is set to begin the 2021 season on Friday, Feb. 12 in Edmond, Okla where they will compete in the Edmond First Pitch Classic.
The Gorillas will first take on Harding at 6 p.m. followed by Oklahoma Baptist on Saturday, Feb. 13 at 3 p.m. and then East Central on Sunday, Feb. 14 at noon.
“Well, I think number one is hopefully we all stay healthy and we’re able to play our forty games,” Head Coach Bob Fornelli said. “We lost ten games during this year because of COVID. So, it’s going to be a sprint rather than a marathon we feel. I think we got a really good squad. The guys are gonna play together and they like one another. We’re hoping to have a really good season.”
Ryan Koval, junior outfielder, hopes to have a successful season.
“… At the end of the day I want our team to be successful,” Koval said. “Winning baseball is fun baseball.”
Last season, the baseball team managed an overall record of 14-8 (4-2 MIAA) before the season was cancelled due to COVID-19.
“(I’m looking forward to) just an opportunity to compete,” Fornelli said. “It’s been since last March that we’ve played together so I think everybody’s fired up to put a Pittsburg State uniform on and go out and represent the school well.”
Like all sports and athletic events, baseball will see some changes this season due to COVID-19.
“COVID presents challenges for sure, as we are tested every week before we travel, and with 10 games already being taken out of our schedule,” Koval said. “Personally, I’m not sure what schools will allow fans, which is obviously a little different playing a game with no spectators no matter what sport it is. Either way, we get the opportunity to play and that’s what all college baseball players want.”
After the last half of last season was cancelled, the team returned to practicing.
“A lot of us haven’t had the opportunity to play in an actual game since last spring, when our season was cancelled,” Blain Ohlmeier, junior outfielder said. “We are all looking forward to getting the season rolling, we have a great group of guys who have bought in and worked really hard to get where we are today.”
While Ohlmeier knows that this season will be unlike any other, he is confident in the team’s ability and the ability of the coaching staff to make it through it.
“We are trying to treat this season just like any other, but due to COVID-19, we may end up with a few obstacles,” Ohlmeier said. “We may have players or coaches who end up getting sick or quarantined for a while. It doesn’t change our mindset of coming out and competing every day. The coaching staff and the players trust in each other and we know if someone is out, that the next person will step up and get the job done.”
Fornelli hopes to see the team grow together as a team and as a family throughout the season.
“(I hope to see the team) just play the right way, compete, believe in one another, and become a family,” Fornelli said.
While he has high hopes for the season, Koval is also looking forward to bonding with the team more.
“This season I’m looking forward to hopefully a full season with the conference tournament at the end, along with regionals on the line,” Koval said. “With not playing much of a season last year, our team has essentially been working in the weight room and practicing for… two years in preparation of this season. This team has also become a second family for me, so I really look forward to all the time spent with them and getting to play the game we all love together.”
Ohlmeier is focused on making it to regionals.
“As a team we have many small goals in order to reach our ultimate goal, which is winning the conference and hosting a regional,” Ohlmeier said. “Every time we step on the field, we have a goal of getting better and competing every day. The daily competition we have against each other in practice this year has been something we all take pride in and has made us better players and closer as teammates.”