Molloy eyes conference crown despite traveling to every game this season
The concept of a traveling road team in baseball is not unique. In independent minor leagues, there's usually a road team used to fill out any schedule imbalances. In the East Coast Conference, the Molloy Lions have been the road team for the entire 2013 season.
Molloy, which in previous years played its home games at Mitchell Field in Uniondale, N.Y. , has played its home games at various colleges around the Long Island area. Among the venues that the Lions have called home in the 2013 season include Joe Nathan Field at the Stony Brook, Hofstra in Hempstead, St. Joseph's (N.Y.) in Patchogue, Dowling Golden Lions Field in Brookhaven and Jack Kaiser Stadium at St. John's (N.Y.).
The Lions haven’t been weary from their travel, instead playing their best ball of the season since April 5th. Molloy has won eight of their last 10 games, during which they have allowed five runs on less in nine of their last 10 contests. During the Lions' recent surge, they have also taken five of their eight victories by a margin of two runs or less.
"I am happy where we are," head coach Joe Fucarino said. "We play hard every day and get consistent pitching and defense...The players have a good focus in their everyday approach to practice and game preparation.”
Throughout the unconventional situation of the team having to travel to different parks around the region, Molloy has grown closer as a team.
"Getting in the vans everyday and traveling has been tough, but it has also given us a lot of time to bond with each other," Fucarino said.
The coach also mentioned the great work of the athletic department in choosing top-quality collegiate fields, which has been a "lift" to the players on the team.
One thing Molloy has counted on during this difficult time is the support of their fans at every ballpark they have played in. The dedication has been something that the players and coaches have appreciated.
"Our parents and fans of the program are pretty committed to the players and the program," Fucarino said.
Despite the lack of a proper home field, the Lions feel the roar of their fans makes up for the difference.
Molloy has four game remaining on its schedule against the Knights of Queens (N.Y.), with its final home games in a doubleheader at Hofstra on May 4. The Lions, who were the ECC regular-season champions in 2011 and missed the ECC tournament last season, can clinch an ECC tournament berth with one win in the series.
Despite being 21-23 overall on the season, Molloy is 12-8 in the conference, which ties them with Dowling in the race for the No. 2 seed. Both teams are behind St. Thomas Aquinas, but with the Spartan’s home field (Provident Bank Park) unavailable for the championship weekend, the runner-up will host the ECC tournament. If Molloy comes in second, they will host at their “home” field at St. Joseph’s.
Molloy and Coach Fucarino know they will not take their competition for granted.
"Honestly whoever gets into the tournament has a legitimate shot of winning it," Fucarino said. "All the teams have different positives that can earn them the championship this year. "