by Jesse Frasier
Bridgewater State’s baseball team expects a bounce-back season in 2020. Following a 17-22 finish in 2019, the Bears expect to improve with their returning talent. Second-year coach, Greg Rackrison and the Bears are back and with a new recruiting class and first year of coaching under Rackrison’s belt. I was fortunate enough to sit down with sophomore second basemen Liam Bell, (Wells, ME) who emphasized how much smoother this year has felt under Coach Rackrison, such as his coaching style, how he runs practice and expectations of the team. Despite a losing regular season record, the Bears were above .500 in MASCAC Conference play, and hope to prove their projected rank of 6th out of the eight teams is inaccurate.
Liam Bell hopes to continue a successful freshman campaign into his second year at Bridgewater State. Bell burst onto the scene with a .377 batting average in his first year, an important part of the Bears’ 2019 season. Bell can’t wait for spring break and for the team to head down to Florida as it is the official start of the season, featuring some of the best talent in Division III baseball with colleges and universities from New Jersey to Ohio. It’s not just the warmth and baseball that brings the team to a new level excitement, but the bonding experience of training and beginning a fresh season:“You put six guys in a room with baseball being played and warm weather outside, you’re almost guaranteeing the boys in the room will be closer on the last day than the first day,” Bell said. This trip also allows the team to break grade barriers and creates a team-feel for underclassmen. The Bears expect veteran leadership from graduates Colin Josselyn (Hanson, MA) and Alex McGrath (Bridgewater, MA), and hope to make their final seasons memorable.
From fall ball to travel ball in the summer, baseball is a year-round sport. Once fall ball ends, the Bears take a few weeks off to mentally and physically recover before they get back to the grind. Winter lifts begin in a flash and the everyday off-field process begins. Bell admitted it does take time to get used to the cold after playing for so long in the Florida heat: “the ball definitely fly’s off the bat down there in the warmth, it can be a tough couple of few ABs’ to get back to the 40-degree April days,”. The team hopes a productive Florida trip will carry into a successful season.
The Bears have a number of strengths, but also some concerns. There is depth and versatility in the batting lineup, with more capable players at the bottom of the order, but the pitching rotation is a question that this season will answer. “We have a bunch of new arms and young guys coming in with big arms. We just need consistency from those guys as that proved to be a issue for us last season,” said Bell.
The team hopes to win or finish among the top-three in MASCAC, though they expect a challenge from teams such as Westfield State and Framingham State. A positive from last year’s league play would be the team sweeping MCLA for the first time in years. Positive splits on teams that traditionally give Bridgewater State trouble are a reasonable goal for the 2020 season.
The 2020 season will start in style with brand-new Nike uniforms. The Bears have three uniform combos: a red uniform, a grey uniform, and an eye-popping white pinstripe look with “Bears” in red letters across the chest. Not only will the Bears expect to win games, but look professional in the meantime. The teams open in Port Charlotte, Florida against Kean College on March 7 , and at home in Bridgewater March 16 against Gordon College! Good luck to the Bears this upcoming spring and have a blast in Florida!