Scots return to the diamond, look for improvement in 2006

By William Kennedy

Minnesota’s snow has not yet melted, but the boys of summer have already made their appearance as Mac’s 2006 baseball season began last week. Mac will use the next month, until league play begins April 1st, to sharpen its skills—before making an attempt to pull itself out of the MIAC’s lower recesses. For the last three seasons the Scots have struggled, finishing at or near the bottom of the league standings every year.
Official team practices began early in February, and according to head coach Matt Parrington there haven’t been any major surprises in the build-up to the season. “I think we’re just making slow, steady progress,” he said.
Despite the squad’s roster being almost evenly split between upper and lower classmen, Parrington said that if all goes according to plan, seniors and juniors will do most of the contributing on the field this season. The experience of the team’s veterans, Parrington added, has accounted to a large extent for the team’s gradual improvements over the off-season.
Upperclassmen expected to provide the power for the Scots offense this season are Kyle Goerschler ’06 and Andrew Percival ’06. They tied for the team lead in RBI’s during conference play last year with 10, while Percival was second on the team in runs with 11 and Goerschler led the Scots with two homeruns.
Fellow senior Kier Palmer-Klein ’06 as well as John Simkins ’08 were also an offensive threat last year, posting averages of .317 and .289 respectively during league play.

On the mound, Mac will look for contributions from Simkins as well as Ted Kimble ’07 and Liam Bowen ’06, all of whom pitched a lot of innings for the Scots last year. Mac will look for Adam Wedwick ’07 to complement the rotation after he threw nine innings of no-run-ball coming out of the bull-pen in 2005.
To really improve however, the Scots will need contributions from more than just the above-mentioned players. In a game of statistics, the Scots posted some really bad ones last year: finishing last in the MIAC in runs scored and RBI’s and second-to-last in earned runs allowed and batting average.
To make matters more difficult, the Scots bid farewell to their All-MIAC center fielder Mike Merrill ’05 after he graduated last year.
Well aware of the obstacles facing the team, Parrington again looks to the team’s veteran status as a source of some optimism. “Will we ever be great in terms of ERA and runs—probably not,” he said. “We’re never going to be off the charts in any of those areas, but we should be a little better in each [this year].”

The Scots will have a chance to show their improvement while playing at the Metrodome March 5 against Elmhurst (Ill.) and March 8 against Graceland (Ia.), and then playing seven games in as many days during their Spring Break trip.

Realistically Mac will shoot to make the middle of the MIAC where they have not been since 2002 when they finished 11-9 in conference play.
“If we stay healthy and have consistency we have a chance to make a move,” said Parrington. “How big of a move is yet to be determined.”

So far, the Scots are off to a good start in their pre-MIAC season, sweeping Finlandia in a double header, winning 14-2 in the first game and 7-1 in the second.