Four years and six players add up to one goal—leading Seton Hall baseball to the postseason.
After starting on the baseball team together as freshmen, Chris Chiaradio, Derek Jenkins, Zack Weigel, Luke Cahill, Brett Fontenelli and Sam Burum now have the chance to make their mark on the team as past seniors have done before them.
Having a group to look up to has always been essential.
“My freshman year, we started out 0-9, and we had a good group of seniors then who really just made no excuses, went to work every day,” Chiaradio said. “We had a good example when we were young, and we’re trying to set that now.”
“Since freshman year, we had a lot of good seniors,” Fontenelli agreed. “They showed us how to lead, so this year we try to emulate what they did, and so far it seems to be working.”
That success is shown in the team’s 26-12 overall record, already surpassing last year’s win total. After tough times, the current senior does not take its role in accountability lightly.
“It’s kind of scary,” Jenkins said about his role as a leader. “Some times you think about it a little too much, but I like being in that role and being a leader to some of these younger guys.”
Jenkins leads his team in batting average (.304), hits (45), RBI (26) and tops the nation in steals (40). This type of veteran production is what the younger players see and strive for.”
“There is so much leadership and baseball smarts in that group of guys and they’re really the reason this team is such a tight-knit group,” junior infielder Mikael-Ali Mogues said of his teammates. “Their experience has taught us how to deal with all the different facets of the game and also how to thrive with the high demand of being a baseball player here.”
Head coach Mike Sheppard reflects those sentiments in the importance of his seniors on the team in being role models and winning games.
“They’ve done a great job, they’ve been good leaders by example,” the coach said. “Overall, the seniors have really done a great job of leading the way for the younger guys and showing them what it’s like to be a Seton Hall baseball player.
“I think the results speak of their leadership and work ethic and really getting the younger guys involved, and they’ve done a great job.”
Not only is it important to involve the younger players now; the seniors want to have an impact that will last on their play beyond this season.
“Just to keep up the hard work,” Weigel said of what he would like to pass down to his teammates. “We’re a group, we’re a family, so just to stay close knit…Be in the moment and enjoy everything you got.”
“We come out and set the tone everyday,” Cahill said. “And if we don’t show up, then how do we set the right example for the guys under us?”
This team-wide bond could not be possible without the smaller bond formed between the six seniors through each year of their four in the program.
“Six of us have been together since our freshman year,” Burum said. “We’ve bonded and come to- gether, just trying to have a good year for our last year.”
The seniors hope to take this mentality and bring it all the way to a Big East championship and beyond.
“We just want to win a Big East title this year, get to a regional,” Burum said. “It’s been the goal since we’ve got here freshman year, and hopefully we get it this year.”
Through four years, these seniors have been through their share of downs and losing seasons, but together, learning from seniors before them, they are lead- ing this baseball team to the success they have been dreaming of since their freshman year.
“Since we got here, we talked in the summer and a little bit in the first couple weeks here,” Jenkins said about the team discussing season goals. “We really talked about what we need to do and how we need to go about our work to get to our main goal, and that’s a Big East championship.”
With their leadership and bond, they are ready for that goal to become reality.
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. edu or on Twitter @eswint22.