Head Coach, Senior Slugger Talk IWU Baseball Hopes for 2023
Written by Andrew Pietraszewski on February 21, 2023
Image courtesy of Illinois Wesleyan Baseball on Twitter
BLOOMINGTON, Ill – The Illinois Wesleyan Titan’s first baseball game of the season is Thursday, and senior Ethan Burgh is ready to get into it.
“I’m the most comfortable I’ve ever been at the plate,” said Burgh. “I’m excited.”
The Titans put up a 16-21 record last year, after a sub-.500 season in 2021, which is a disappointing result for a program that put up a winning season every year from 2000 to 2020. However, Burgh feels that this year could be the year that starts a new winning streak.
“Our pitching is a lot better this year, you can totally see it, and some of the guys are more focused,” said Burgh.
Head Coach Dennis Martel shares that sentiment as well.
“I’m optimistic with [the pitching.] We have more depth, more talent, better arms.”
Pitching seems to be the main topic of excitement for the Titans this year, especially after last year’s dismal 6.02 team ERA. But it also seems like that excitement might turn into pressure early for the team.
“Pitching is going to have to carry us early, because 6 of our 9 hitters in the lineup are going to be new or fairly inexperienced,” said Martel.
One of the few experienced hitters coming back is Burgh, who started 29 out of 31 games he played last year before a late-season sprained thumb shut his season down. Burgh had a solid year last year, hitting .298 with 32 runs batted in, but the senior seems more keen on helping his team win than striving for individual performances.
“I want to feel good and be as efficient as possible, whether it’s in the field, hitting or on the mound. I’m hoping I can just produce. The numbers are nice, but as long as I’m staying consistent, that’s the biggest thing,” said Burgh.
One area Burgh does pride himself, however, is knowing the strike zone. In Burgh’s shortened season last year, the infielder walked 22 times, while he only struck out 19 times. Burgh is certainly looking to repeat that performance this year.
“I take good pride in knowing the strike zone, and I feel like I have a pretty good eye when it comes to the strike zone,” said Burgh. “I take pride in working good counts. I got to a couple 3-2 counts last year, and they went for walks or strikeouts most of the time. I take pride in that when I’m striking out, I’m swinging.”
Overall, the Titans’ optimism is abundant, and Martel is ready as well for the season to start.
“I like where we’re at, and we’re just ready to get out in the real games, and have at it.”
The Titan’s first game is on Feb 23rd, when they travel to take on Greenville at Robert E Smith Field at 1 pm.