Parkland baseball shows off new freshmen, starts team building process
Last Wednesday had Parkland baseball opening their fall season at home against Lincoln College. After a long season of preparation, coach Dave Garcia unveiled this year’s stellar recruiting class, as well as gave the returning sophomores a chance to solidify themselves in key roles and begin to take on the leadership positions needed to bring success.
Fall season is viewed by the coaching staff as a time to work out fundamentals. But still, Garcia says, “We do always want to win every game.”
Fortunately for the Cobra’s, the game featured an offensive explosion, culminating at one point to 11 hits in one inning, and was lead by freshman outfielder Matthew Zielonoko’s two doubles and a triple.
“Everything was feeling good, even the at-bats that didn’t fall for hits,” Zielonoko said. “Tomorrow is another day though, so I am going to keep focusing on keeping my swing on track and doing anything the team needs me to get done.”
“It was the first time for our guys to see live pitching this fall,” Garcia said. “Up until now, it’s been batting practice- a more controlled environment. Top to bottom [of the lineup], we were hitting the ball well. From a hitting coach perspective, what was good for me to see was our guys hitting the ball to the right side of the field.”
The game also included the debut of the new, electric pitching staff the Cobra’s will be featuring this season. Freshman Mike Enriquez and Michael Failoni both threw two solid innings. Both were hitting the high 80’s with a fastball, as well as missing bats with devastating, high movement, strikeout pitches.
“First outing of the fall you don’t want to read too much into, but we had guys hitting the zone,” Garcia said. “We got to see some guys we’ve been waiting to see for a year now. Velocities were right where they should be. We don’t want to put too much stock in velocity, but it’s a good sign.”
The game also had the returning sophomores working their way back into familiar, as well as fresh roles in the Cobra lineup. Part of being a veteran is being aware of the day-to-day grind of a baseball season.
“There’s still some time to get the rust off,” sophomore outfielder Cully Day said. “Even though today was a little unsuccessful at the plate and was getting out in front of some pitches, it is still a good time to keep working the mental game at the plate.”
The grind and unfamiliar challenges of college baseball create the need for veteran players to tend to aspects of the team’s psyche. Fall ball is time for leaders to prove themselves to the team with their play and their attitude.
“It’s still early, there’s still a lot of time for guys to find their niche on the team. It is an area we want the guys to be working and continue to improve on, but with two weeks into the fall, sophomores are starting to prove themselves by example,” Garcia said.
The success in the first game is just temporary satisfaction.
“In the fall, you want to go out, you want to win every game,” Garcia said. “Most importantly you want to see everyone and get to evaluate everybody. The biggest plus is getting the guys working together. At the end of the day, we want two things. Get the guys playing as a team, for Parkland, and to get the sophomores exposure to four year schools. We have a full schedule for fall, and we’ll be able to reach those goals.”