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UNT club baseball team fighting pressure to be perfect

UNT club baseball team fighting pressure to be perfect

Senior Ben Salter hits the ball to his teammates during practice.

UNT club baseball team fighting pressure to be perfect
March 01
18:40 2017

They may only be eight games into their season, but the UNT club baseball team is already feeling the pressure. That’s because if they want to make the postseason, UNT will have to play nearly flawless baseball down the stretch.

Members of the Gulf Coast North conference in the National Club Baseball Association, UNT must compete with the likes of Baylor University, Southern Methodist University and undefeated Texas Tech University.

Already in an 0-3 hole in conference play after losses to Baylor in Waco this past weekend, UNT understands every win matters moving forward.

“We need to be perfect this season because our conference is one of the best in the entire region,” senior third basemen and pitcher Benjamin Salter said. “We have to win out for the most part to put ourselves in the best position to go to the postseason.”

Simply winning, however, may not be enough. UNT also will likely need other conference foes to stumble at some point to allow the Mean Green to make up ground.

With their backs against the wall, the team is already embracing a do-or-die mentality.

“Losing the series this weekend put us in a tough spot to begin conference play,” senior club president Marshall McKee said. “We will probably need to win all of the series from here on out with a couple of sweeps thrown in there as well.”

Although the pressure has already started to mount, the team faced adversity long before the season began.

UNT had tryouts as well as their first set of games within a week of each other. With little time to prepare, the Mean Green split their first series against Stephen F. Austin before sweeping Oklahoma State University the following weekend.

“This season for us so far has been interesting,” Salter said. “We had spring tryouts late and had to get our new members integrated very quickly with them learning our signs and all aspects of becoming a team.”

Before they even realized it, several of UNT’s new players were feeling the strain of a quick turnaround. Even though they got off to a 4-1 start, the Mean Green knew the true test would be playing Baylor on the road.

And after leaving Waco with three straight losses, UNT knows it got caught in the bear trap.

“Our guys did not fully understand the pressure that being in this conference, playing these teams has yet,” Salter said. “Baylor is one of the hardest teams we face.”

Despite getting swept by the Bears, several newcomers have already made an impact on the team.

One of them is junior pitcher and shortstop Brennen Fischer. Against Baylor, Fischer hit two doubles in game one and a triple in game two, along with pitching and tossing five strikeouts.

“I believe that once we meld together as a team we will be unstoppable,” Fischer said. “Until that moment I am trying to prove to myself and the team that I can handle college baseball.”

Until they begin to mesh, the team will have to look to one another for answers. That’s because the team is one of the clubs on campus that lack a head coach.

This means many of the leaders on the team will have to shoulder the burden after losses and come up with new strategies. For McKee in particular as the club’s president, he will now try to go into practices with a new tactic—using the pressure of being perfect as motivation.

“Practices may be a little more tense because it is crucial to work on every little thing and try to remedy all mistakes,” McKee said. “With such little practice time, we will need to stay focused and take advantage of every minute we get.”

Their postseason hopes may appear bleak, but UNT is not letting it get the better of them.

Some players are even viewing the pressure as a way to help the team in the long run, and turning something negative into something positive.

“The pressure is almost a good thing,” senior pitcher and utilities player Andrew Scott Alig said. “It keeps us on our toes always ready for what comes next.”

Featured Image: Senior Ben Salter hits the ball to his teammates during practice. Sara Carpenter

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Samantha Morrow

Samantha Morrow

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