Expect a Changeup for Wesleyan Baseball this Spring
Written by WZND Newsroom on February 6, 2023
Image courtesy of Illinois Wesleyan Athletics
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – After two seasons filled with COVID-19 uncertainties, the Illinois Wesleyan Titans’ baseball team was hoping that 2022 would be something different, something more successful. Needless to say, the 16-21 overall record was disappointing, especially for head coach Dennis Martel, who points to a variety of factors for the unsatisfying season.
“[COVID-19] has really taken a toll on the program,” Martel said. “In the last two years after that we’ve just been decimated by injuries, to really key players.”
Martel is optimistic for the 2023 season, however, after varying up how he and his coaching staff have handled the offseason.
“We backed off on the conditioning, and I’ve always wondered if there’s a point of overtraining.” Martel said, “kids coming in, lifting 4 days a week instead of 3, the conditioning and sprinting, doing it with more quality and less quantity, really working on stretching and movement, and it seems to be pretty good.”
From a baseball standpoint, Martel has also tried to change the fortunes of the team from a pitching standpoint, after what he calls ‘subpar pitching’ during last season. The team has brought in 12 pitchers to hopefully improve from a 6.02 team ERA during the 2022 season.
Among those new pitchers is junior Luke Uhwat, who transferred after three seasons at McHenry County College, where he posted a 3.35 ERA in 45.2 innings pitched, and freshman Marshall Ingold from Rochester, Illinois. Jacob Cyrus is among the standout pitchers returning to the Titan staff, after posting a 3.14 ERA in 43 innings pitched last season.
Of course, there’s the added wrinkle of the long time off between college seasons. The Titans have not played a game since May 9, which certainly begs the question of how Martel’s players have stayed focused throughout the offseason.
“It’s a lot of self-discipline on their own,” Martel said. “From the middle of October until the middle of January, we really don’t have any contact with them, but we give them a script of working out, lifting, conditioning, speed work, mobility work, throwing programs. But we give them time off, get away from it, your body and mind need to get away from baseball, but after that, we say it’s time to gear up. If you wanna play, you have to get stronger. You have to get faster. You have to better.”
There’s also been an attitude change that Martel has tried to spark within the culture of the team.
“We have a chance to be really good, we just have to get healthy.” Martel said, “we brought in a lot of kids, and we tried to change the culture. We’re going to get it turned around, and either you’re with us or you’re not.”
The Titans start their season Feb 24 when they travel to take on Greenville at Robert E. Smith Field. They play their first 12 games on the road before their first home game against Wabash on March 25.