‘Ford baseball team maintains title hopes
By biconews On 22 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Dan Silver

March is almost upon us, spring training has already started in the MLB, and the Haverford College baseball team is gearing up for their upcoming season.

The Fords are hoping that this year’s squad avoids the path taken by last year’s. Junior Matt Popowsky, one of the three captains along with seniors Tim Mulvaney and Craig Irrgang,

explained that last year, after getting off to a pretty strong start in Florida, the team came home and lost some close non-conference games to a few tough opponents: “We started our conference schedule off pretty well too, and down to the last week or so, we still had a shot at a fairly

successful season. Unfortunately, we ended the year on a bad losing streak, and what looked like a promising season turned into a real disappointment.” That disappointment was capped by an embarrassing doubleheader versus Swarthmore to end the season in which Swat won both games.

But enough about last year’s disappointment, because this year the team is entering the season with a real sense of optimism.

The main reasons for optimism are the strong pitching and defense the Fords should have. Popowsky, who is probably one of the best defensive third-basemen, if not the best, in the

Centennial conference, went as far as saying that he thinks the team is “capable of playing virtually error-free defense.”

In addition to defense, pitching figures to be another determining factor in how the team fares in the league. According to Popowsky, “Coach [Ed] Molush has gone so far as to predict it could be the best staff he has coached in his nine years as head coach.” One of the key pitchers who must have a great year for the team to have a shot at the league title is senior fire-bailer Jeff Lezinski. Last year, mainly serving as a closer, Lezinski managed to lead the team with a 2.45 ERA. However, this year Lezinski has developed a sneaky slider to go along with his overpowering fastball, and the coaching staff is hoping he can jump out of his role as a closer to become the number one starter on the team.

In addition to Lezinski, the pitching staff boasts a number of dynamic pitchers. The number two and number three starters figure to be soph Marc Welles and junior Dan Kirsch. Welles, like Lezinski, boasts a high-powered fastball, but his arsenal also includes a tricky curveball and a change-up in which he says he is gaining more and more confidence. Big things are expected of him this year.

The fact that Dan Kirsch might end up as the number three starter is more of a testament to the strength of the staff than any sort of negative reflection on Kirsch himself. Last year Kirsch lead the team in wins (4) and was named the MVP of the team. Unlike Welles and Lezinski, Kirsch relies more on placement than power. The accuracy with which he is able to throw his three pitches (fastball, curve, and changeup) is astonishing. His style provides a nice contrast to that of Lezinski and Welles.

Other pitchers who figure to contribute often are junior Josh Baker, sophomore Ned Macey, and junior Chris Huffman, who also plays shortstop.

“Our [pitching] staff has matured into one that is concerned with hitting spots, not making mistakes, and battling it out in tough games,” said Lezinski. “If there is one thing that would allow us to win a league title, it would be that all of our pitchers would consistently throw strikes, which would allow our strong defense to make the plays we know they can [make].”

Even though pitching and defense are the strongest aspects of the team, they still boast a solid offensive line-up, which features one of the best hitters in the entire league in sophomore Matt Genna. Genna is a power hitting lefty who will most likely obliterate all the school power-hitting records (e.g., doubles, RBI’s, HR’s, etc.) by the end of his four years. Besides Genna, sophomore John Odom, juniors Rob Pickard and Nathan Dean, and Huffman give the team an

element of potential home-run power they’ve lacked in past years.

Even if the defense and pitching live up to advance billing, Man Popowsky still believes that to win the league “it will take nearly flawless execution in every game,” though adding that he thinks “the team is capable of exactly that.”

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