There is more than one baseball team here at the University of Miami.
The UM club baseball team is a resource for students who are highly athletic, just not quite at the division one level.
The 29-member squad began its season with a bang taking three of four from Florida Tech, who was playing in their first series as members of the National Club Baseball Association (NCBA). The home series for the Hurricanes was played at West Perrine Park with doubleheaders on both Jan. 30 and 31.
This year has begun with a strong start after the orange and green endured three losing seasons since joining the NCBA. Despite past mediocrity, the club exudes confidence and optimism for forthcoming success.
“This is by far the best team we’ve ever had,” head coach Michael North said.
Senior third baseman Josh Rodriguez said the team loves coming out and playing despite the losing tradition.
But North tends to disagree.
“You can’t really have fun if you don’t win,” he said.
Billy Fuchsman, a senior pitcher who has played with the team for all four of his years at UM, shares a similar faith with Rodriguez in the team’s potential.
“I expect us to have our first winning season,” Fuchsman said. “And make a possible playoff run.”
The Hurricanes’ club baseball team is one of the five teams in the NCBA’s Sunshine Conference along with fellow in-state rivals Florida, Florida State, Central Florida and Florida Tech. To make the playoffs they must either win the conference by finishing with the best record out of the five after the 24-game regular season or earn a wildcard spot into the regional playoffs consisting of two other conferences.
After regionals are nationals which will include eight schools from across the country and employ a similar format to the College World Series, according to North.
The first series has club president and utility infielder junior Robbie Shiver assessing his team thus far.
“We have a real strong pitching staff, especially our starters,” Shiver said. “Starting pitching and hitting are our strengths.”
Rodriguez, meanwhile, admits that the main thing that has held the team back in previous seasons has been poor defense.
“We would probably commit 60 to 70 errors a year,” he said.
While the club played their first home series at West Perrine Park, their remaining home games will be played at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. According to Shiver, they will be the first club team to ever play there.
Their schedule also includes road trips to Tallahassee, Melbourne and Orlando, as well as a trip to Statesboro, Ga. to finalize the regular season.
“Road trips are really what brings the team together,” Fuchsman said.
They feel the trips are essential for the development of team chemistry.
“The best way to get to know a man is to sleep with him,” North said.
David Furones may be contacted at email@example.com.