GVSU baseball making strides despite pedestrian record
Most college spring breakers pack up their suitcases and head to warmer weather to party, rest and relax for a week before going back to the everyday academic grind. However, when you are a college baseball player, your spring break tends to be a little different than that.
The GVSU baseball team is currently about to round out an 11-game stretch down in Kissimmee, Fla. at the Russmatt Invitational. Nine games in, the Lakers have gone 5-4 with their most loss coming against reigning DII champion Augustana by a score of 6-2. GVSU head coach Jamie Detillion said he felt like the season so far had been an appropriate sum of their record.
“We’re 6-6 so our record shows where we are at,” Detillion said. “I don’t think it tells the whole story because we’re showing improvement in all three phases. We’ve got a lot of talent, it’s just a matter of learning quickly and putting our best game together.”
GVSU started off the season 1-3 before they heated up in the sunshine state. Detillion said this is due in part because of how hard it is for northern college teams to get practice time outdoors early on in the year.
“We don’t like to use it as an excuse, but it is a part of the puzzle,” Detillion said. “We’re a talented team, but when you spend the first 40 percent of your season without getting outdoors, it can cause progress to come slowly.”
Apart from an offensive explosion against Truman State where they won 13-1, the Lakers managed eight runs across three games against Ohio Dominican and Southern Indiana. Over the past eight games, GVSU has averaged 7.4 runs per game, much in large part due to the efforts of senior shortstop Alex Mandeville and junior catcher Joe Laudont.
Laudont and Mandeville have stepped up early on in the season to provide the Lakers with key offensive production. Laudont has started the season hitting .484 across 10 games and Mandeville leads the Lakers in runs batted in with 11. Laudont acknowledges his teammates for his early season successes at the plate.
“I give a lot of credit to my teammates. I go up every at bat very prepared to attack at the plate,” Laudont said. “They help give me a sense of what I’m going to see so I can lock in on a single pitch. I also think that I’m personally not trying to do too much and I’m staying in the teams hitting philosophy. I go up with the mentality just to help the team.”
That approach has paid major dividends for Laudont, which included a 3-3 performance at the plate with a double, grand slam and five RBI against Minnesota State Mankato.
“I go by a phrase at the plate. It’s called KISS, it’s a pretty common baseball term, but it means ‘keep it simple stupid,’” Laudont said. “So, my approach is basically to see ball, hit ball and it works to my advantage for the most part.”
Laudont agreed with Detillion over how the team is starting to play better and that their record doesn’t reflect it yet.
“We are a very close group of guys and we are never lacking for work ethic. We hold ourselves to very high standards,” Laudont said. “As a team we just need to continue to push each other to play hard and stay locked in every game. If we play pitch to pitch, we will be very successful as has been proven by our more consistent play of late.”
Detillion and the Lakers are excited to face their first GLIAC competiton of the year, as they'll play the Wayne State Warriors on Friday, March 22, as well as the following Saturday and Sunday. Friday's game is scheduled to start at 4 p.m., with Saturday's starting at 1 p.m. and rounding out the weekend on Sunday at noon
“We’re getting to play some top competition down in Florida and we’ve shown anything can happen when we step out on the diamond,” Detillion said. “All around after playing these teams we hope we can learn from our time down here and be that much better prepared once we get back into GLIAC play.”