Senior shortstop Tyler Orris went out to practice Wednesday afternoon focused on the same thing as his Millersville teammates. The Marauders wanted to field every ground ball, take good swings in batting practice and do all the little things to get ready for the weekend series with Lock Haven.
“We are taking it one day at a time,” Orris said. “We are not looking too far ahead, focusing on the present.”
Sure, it sounds cliché, admits head baseball coach Jon Shehan. But sticking with this process will carry the Marauders as far as their talents will allow.
“They don’t care what our record is or where we are ranked,” said Shehan, who is in his ninth season as head coach. “It is all about how we play at the end of the year.”
Millersville (Pa.) heads into Sunday’s doubleheader with Lock Haven (Pa.) with a 29-3 record. The Mauraders are ranked fourth in the NCBWA top 25. They are also in first place in the East Division of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
The Marauders, though, have been in this position before. In the previous two seasons, they have reached the Atlantic Regional championship game, falling one step shy of reaching the NCAA Division II College World Series.
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Millersville returns seven position players plus its designated hitter from last year’s team.
“Coming into this year, we knew we had a talented club coming back,” Orris said. “It has been a lot of fun being around the guys every day. We all get along really well. And of course, winning is fun. That makes it easy.”
The Marauders also had one other element that has helped them have such a good start to this season.
“There is a lot of hunger on this team and it is fun to see,” Shehan said.
One example of it is junior catcher Mitch Stoltzfus, who Shehan calls the rock for the pitching staff that features juniors Brandon Miller, Reid Anderson, senior Jim McDade and freshman relief pitcher Mike Mock.
Miller is 6-1 and is drawing interest from professional scouts. Anderson and McDade are both undefeated and Mock hasn’t allowed an earned run in relief.
Beyond handling a pitching staff that has a 3.20 ERA, Stoltzfus is hitting .491 with a team-leading seven home runs and 41 RBIs.
“He has been productive at the plate,” Shehan said. “He worked his tail off all winter long. He worked hard over the summer and fall as well. He is reaping the rewards right now. It is a special year for him. Everything he swings at, he hits hard. It is a lot of fun to see him succeed because of the amount of work that he has put in.”
Nearly keeping pace with Stoltzfus is his cousin, senior first baseman Dan Stoltzfus, who is hitting .426 with 34 RBIs.
“They act like brothers. Dan was an All-American last year at first base and set a home run record,” Shehan said. “The awesome thing about it is both of those guys can keep each other accountable. Dan pushes Mitch and Mitch pushes Dan. They really feed off each other.
“They communicate well. Mitch is in the three hole. He started in the five hole and Dan has been in the four hole all year. They have conversation after every at bat on what they are seeing. It is a lot of fun to see those guys work together and help each other out.”
And then there is Orris, who Shehan calls the leader of the team and for good reason. Orris has played every single inning of every single game since his freshman year. He broke the assist record for Millersville this year and is closing in on the conference assist record.
Orris credits Shehan for the success during his time at Millersville.
“Coach Jon Shehan does a great job of getting us to buy into the process and the team aspect,” Orris said. “The past couple of years, we have had a lot of guys buy into that process. It is what has made us successful on the field.”
You can almost say Shehan was born to coach at Millersville. His dad coached at Millersville for 29 years. Shehan also played on Millersville baseball team from 2001 through 2004 and was an assistant baseball coach for the Marauders for two season before becoming head coach.
“I am a Millersville guy through and through,” Shehan said. “I have an unbelievable amount of pride for this place. I remember running around here when I was 5 years old when my dad was hired here and going to football games and basketball games. It is a really special. It is everyone’s dream to go back to your alma mater and coach and have success.”
The Marauders are having a dream season. They have a little less than a month left in the regular season before playing in the PSAC Tournament May 8-11 in Butler, Pa.
“We need to stay healthy and continue to stay consistent with our approach and our process to the game and let the results take care of themselves,” Shehan said. “You hear a lot, but we got to focus on the process at hand, throw strikes, make plays, situational hitting and hit the ball hard and do all the things to win baseball games.”
Valdosta State softball gets two wins over No. 12 Alabama Huntsville
Valdosta State senior pitcher Caitlyn Calhoun played a key role in the Blazers edging out the University of Alabama in Huntsville 5-4 and 7-5 Saturday afternoon.
In the first game, Calhoun allowed four runs in the first two innings and then shut the Chargers down the last five innings. The Blazers scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to go ahead 5-4. Senior Kiley Rusen had a RBI and scored a run in the win.
For Calhoun, it was her 21st victory of the season. She has just four losses. In the second game, Calhoun earned her second save.
Valdosta State improved to 32-9-2 overall and 16-8-1 in the Gulf South Conference. UAH drops to 33-11 and 17-9. The two teams conclude a three-game series Sunday (April 10).
“It's Huntsville, you know,” said Head Coach Thomas Macera after the sweep on the school’s website. “If you give them chances they are gonna score. They’re a great team, and our performance in game one just showed the resilience of our team. One of our mottos is that it takes seven innings to win a game, and we just kept chipping away and were able to get enough in the end.”