A new season begins Feb. 17 for Seton Hall baseball.
The Pirates finished their 2016 campaign with a 38-20 record, going 23-6 at Owen T. Carroll Field and 10-8 in conference play, good enough to earn a spot in the Big East Tournament. The Pirates won seven of their last eight games before eventually losing out in the postseason, but the team is looking to maintain their solid standing after having several players break out and make an impact last year, and especially after losing key pieces such as Zach Weigel, Derek Jenkins and Chris Chiaradio.
“We need to carry all of our momentum from the beginning and middle of the season through to the end so we don’t fade out,” senior infielder Mikael-Ali Mogues said. “We won when we needed to last year, but we were left [with] a sour taste in our mouths in the Big East tournament last year, so to understand that and not let it happen again is going to be a huge motivating factor for us.”
Mogues was just one of the few Pirates to blossom last year, blasting a team-high four home runs and recording 22 RBI to go with 45 hits. The veteran will look to be a key contributor to the lineup this season, and use what he learned from those who had graduated last year.
“The guys who left had left us confident knowing that we were going to be able to hold our own,” he said. “They were able to use what they had learned and to take their four years of experience and pass that down onto us.”
On the mound, the emergence of a strong pitching rotation helped fuel the Pirates in several games, including ones where offense came at a premium. Shane McCarthy, in addition to throwing a perfect game last year, became one of the Hall’s go-to aces, and looks to continue to build off a strong 2016 showing.
“What we need to translate was how our team got stronger over the course of the season and that is something we need to emphasize this season,” McCarthy said. “We had underclassmen step up in big spots and the leaders establish their role and really run with it and that’s something I see our team doing this year; the leaders bringing up the underclassmen and impact guys.”
McCarthy was one of the bigger performers on last year’s staff, recording six wins to go with a 2.38 ERA and a team-high 84 strikeouts. Arms such as Zach Prendergast, Zach Schellinger and Cullen Dana also made large contributions.
“We’re always going to be in close ballgames, so as a pitching staff we need to be tough mentally and always prepared for whatever is ahead,” he said. “As a unit, we want to give our team the best chance to win every day.”
Excitement is in the air for Seton Hall, and the team is ready to take on the challenges that come with the new season. The Pirates will get their first test of the season in their opener this weekend against Michigan in a four-game set. The first game will be on Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie, Fla., the spring training home for the New York Mets.
Matt Lamb can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MattS_Lamb.