Gallaudet University baseball coach Curtis Pride took some time out before the start of the 2010 season to sit down and discuss the upcoming season, which will be the last for the Bison in the Capital Athletic Conference. GU will join the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) next season. Pride, now in his second season, is excited about the direction the Bison are heading in.
1. What can you build off from last year, your first
PRIDE: We have some guys back from last year who were freshman last season. They know what it takes to win some games and build off. We learned a lot from last year. We have been through ups and downs. The players know my philosophy. We feel comfortable and confident heading into the 2010 season. We have a talented group of freshmen. We should open some eyes this season.
2. You ended the season on a six-game winning streak.
How important was that for the returning players to come back with
PRIDE: It was very important to end last season on a high note. We finished the season strong. The team felt great and we hope to use that to build on this season. We should show up to every game and expect to win.
3. What are your thoughts on the last year in the
Capital Athletic Conference? Gallaudet has a long losing streak
since its last conference win. Will that streak end this
PRIDE: We are excited about this season. We will be more competitive this season. We are capable of winning some CAC games this year.
4. Talk about the 2010 schedule, you have several
nationally ranked teams on the schedule, plus the tough CAC
PRIDE: I feel it is important for our players to get the experience against nationally ranked teams to show them what it takes to get to that level and win at that level. That's where we want to be one day.
5. For the first time in GU baseball history the team
will be making a trip to Florida for Spring Break to play some
non-conference games. Plus the team will experience playing in some
professional stadiums like Dodgertown how did this come about and
why is this important?
PRIDE: As you mentioned GU baseball has never taken a Spring Break trip to Florida or Arizona to play against different colleges from across the country. This will be a great experience for the team to bond, work on chemistry, and see different parts of the country.
6. Break down the 2010 Gallaudet pitching staff
PRIDE: Our top two pitchers will be sophomore Jeremy Shepps (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) and sophomore Ryan Hastings (Cherry Valley, Mass.). They both had good seasons last year and will be much improved in 2010. I know that pair will pitch well this season for us. The back end of the rotation will be tough as freshmen players need to step up. Freshman William Bissell (Brewer, Maine) has a really good fastball and has the potential to be a closer for us. Sophomore John Bingham (Mullica Hill, N.J.) is a left-hander that has improved a lot from last year. He could be a spot starter for us in 2010.
7. Let's talk about the Bison hitters at the plate this
season. Your top two hitters are back from a year ago plus some new
faces should help Gallaudet improve its run production. What are
PRIDE: Junior Zane Noschese (Pittsburgh, Pa.) will lead off for us. He can get on base, take walks, and runs well once he is on the base paths. [Zane was the leading hitter for the Bison last season and was ranked 11th in the conference for batting average with .355). Jeremy will be our No. 3 batter and he can hit gap-to-gap and has some good power. Overall, we need to run well as a team and put pressure on the defenses and pitchers we face. We need play small ball, be able to hit and run. William will be our clean-up hitter (fourth spot) as he has unbelievable power and will help us a lot. Freshman Tommy Barksdale (Brookeville, Md.) will hold down third base for us. He is a solid hitter that makes great contact with the ball. He knows how to play the game the right way. Junior Kyle Kuschmider (Olathe, Kan.) has improved a lot at the plate. We are counting on him to be a gamer for us at the plate and at second base. Behind the plate, we have junior AJ Williams (Albuquerque, N.M.) and freshman Steve Gosselin (Hayward, Calif.). Williams has improved his hitting and is working to improve his raw skills at catcher. Gosselin has some work to do behind the plate but he has time to develop. Freshman Yuri Johnston (Greensboro, N.C.) should also a see a lot of time in the outfield this season.
8. Sophomore Jeremy Shepps had a fabulous first year
with the Bison as he batted .324, had three home runs, 26 RBIs, 12
doubles and four triples. What can we expect from the captain this
PRIDE: Jeremy is a heck of a player. He is a solid shortstop with a great arm. He is a good leader, his teammates voted him as captain his freshman year and he is captain again this season. Jeremy can rally the team and take charge plus encourage his teammates. He has a bright future here at Gallaudet University.
9. What have you been stressing in practice leading up
to the start of the season?
PRIDE: I have been stressing fundamentals. We have worked really hard on our infield defense. That is one of the reasons why I brought in Bucky Dent last fall to help work with our team on its defense. We made too many errors last year. We need to change that this year. We gave away games because of our errors. The errors also led to many unearned runs. That needs to change this season.
10. What are your expectations and
goals for this season?
PRIDE: Obviously we want to win more games this year plus some conference games. We want to make the CAC tournament. Our defense has to improve. We have more experience and talent on this year's team so the confidence is there for a good year!