By: Edward Perez – Staff Writer
The Dayton Flyers baseball team is ready for the launch of the 2016 season. The NCAA gave its participating college baseball teams the green light to begin team practice on Friday, Jan. 29.
The Flyers’ first game will be on Feb. 19, when they take on Stony Brook in the Spartanburg Classic in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Before the Flyers’ step up to the plate, however, goals must be set and strategies must be discussed to ensure a successful 2016 season.
Redshirt junior outfielder Mitch Coughlin says the Flyers are hoping to be more performance-oriented than results-oriented this season. The Flyers already expect to come out of every game with a win, the outfielder said.
“When you start winning weekends, you put yourself in a good position in the conference; make the tournament and you’ll win it,” Coughlin said. “We’re not trying to place necessarily an exact number of what we want to accomplish as far as batting average goes or as far as the total wins goes.”
The team agrees that the standard goal for itself is to make it to the Atlantic 10 tournament, win the tournament and also win the conference regular season title.
“Making it to an NCAA regional would be our ultimate goal,” Coughlin said. “Everything after that is always icing on the cake.”
Coach Tony Vittorio, who is going into his 17th year of managing Flyers baseball, agrees that championship talk revolves around building up wins and confidence throughout the season.
“We have to take care of our conference before we get [to the] regional,” Vittorio said. “So [our goals are] surrounded around winning the A-10 championship, regular season [and] the tournament so we can advance to [the] regional and reset our goals.”
With regards to preseason practice, Vittorio says the focus is, “About development as an individual and as a team so everything we do is surrounded around being prepared for opening day.”
Vittorio is content with what he’s seen in practice thus far. Vittorio says the only areas that need to be addressed are who has the inside track to earn a starting spot in left field and depth on the mound, which he is confident can be fixed with his latest recruits for the team.
The team practice schedule is always subject to change due to the academic schedule of the student-athletes along with the erratic weather. For the remainder of February, the team’s practice schedule revolves around practice at least three times a week in the Frericks Center and a session of weightlifting at least once a week.
“We’re just excited about the everyday grind, that’s what we’re fired up about,” Vittorio said. “It doesn’t matter how good or bad we are, just excited about today.”
“We don’t set any expectation necessarily, we just go at it day by day, trying to get better every day,’” Coughlin said. “It’s a process, we know it’s not a one-day thing; one day you’re good, one day you’re bad. It’s being consistent which is what matters the most. Just attacking every day with a positive attitude.”
Check the team schedule and roster here.
Photo: Due to unpredictable weather, the Dayton Flyers baseball team spends much of its preseason practice time using the Collins Gymnasium connected to the Frericks Center. The team begins its 2016 season Feb. 19 against Stony Brook. Photo courtesy of University of Dayton Athletics.