Redshirt Senior Cam LeFleur is one of the many seniors on the team’s veteran heavy pitching staff. Photo by Autumn Walter.
When the sun is shining and it’s above 45 degrees outside, everyone on campus is happier. Nobody likes the warm weather more than head baseball coach, Raphael Cerrato. That gives his team the opportunity to practice outside and prepare for their first game at Rice University on Feb. 15.
“We’ve been lucky to be able to get onto the field a decent amount with the weather and lack of snow, said a relieved Coach Cerrato. “Knock on wood,”
The 2018 Rams baseball team finished with an overall record of 24-27 (13-11). Coach Cerrato is entering his fifth year as head coach for the University of Rhode Island, and he expects to improve from last season after not making the A-10 tournament. When asked what his team needs to do differently for success, he said, “Getting off to a better start is so important. We played a really difficult schedule and struggled early.” Cerrato went onto say, “We expect to be competing for a championship every year, so for us not to be in the tournament was not a good overall season for us.”
But this year is different. According to Cerrato, there’s a strong returning group of players coming into the season who know what it takes to be great.
“The guys are hungry and I think they have a little chip on their shoulder this year because we didn’t do what we expected to accomplish last season,” Cerrato said.
Team leader and veteran pitcher, Cam LaFleur has very high expectations because of the hard work the team’s put in throughout the off-season. “This has definitely been the hardest we’ve worked in the weight room, out of the four years I’ve been here. That’s definitely going to pay off once the season starts.”
Team leader and senior infielder, Kevin Keiss said that the team’s goal is set on making the A-10 tournament. “Last year we came short of our goal, making the A-10 tournament. We just need to get off to a good start and be a lot stronger throughout the season.”
Cerrato is looking forward to his team perform at Rice University and he believes the offense will significantly contribute. “The hitters look good, I like our offense. We’ve done some different things offensively with our hitters in terms of things we’ve worked on, and we’re seeing good progress. I think we have a chance to be pretty good offensively.”
To open up the season, the three-weekend starters are set to be, senior Tyler Wilson, junior Nick Robinson and junior Vitaly Jangols. All have experience and are well prepared for the season. As for the new faces on the team, there are six “talented” Freshman and eight Red-Shirt Freshman from last season, looking to help the team get to the A-10 tournament.
The Rhody Baseball team has a tough schedule ahead, but Cerrato is confident in his team. He finished by saying, “I’m very excited because I think we can compete at a high level.”
The URI baseball team will spend the weekend in Houston, Texas at Rice University. The long journey won’t be easy as they face many tough teams, but they have prepared all offseason to keep playing on May 22, when the A-10 tournament begins.