New faces, mindset highlight 2018 Diamond Hawks
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The talk of UNCW Seahawks Baseball Media Day today was how the team is flying into the 2018 season with nothing but high expectations.
Part of the expectations come from outside, but most of the confidence comes from within where the best motivation for this group is winning.
“Winning championships and making it far is a lot of fun,” UNCW Senior Infielder Mason Berne said. “Winning is a lot of fun, I love to win. We have a bunch of boys in here that want it. We want to win. We want to go to Omaha. We have the hashtag OmaHawks on Twitter, it’s more of a lifestyle that we try and live day in and day out.”
If the Seahawks want to return to Omaha, they need to first get through a competitive CAA conference where for the third year in a row, they are the preseason favorite. Something that is both a blessing and a curse for a team.
“It’s a challenge through the course of the year,” UNCW Baseball Head Coach Mark Scalf said. “It’s something that you can place out there in front of the players and continue to get them to work towards that. But they need to understand that you were picked that way at the beginning of the year but where were you on the back end?”
On the back end of last season, UNCW had to sit and watch Delaware celebrate on their field after they defeated the Seahawks in the finals of the CAA tournament. It’s something that still sits on the minds of the players returning to this team.
“Of course we wanted to finish on top but sometimes losing sets a learning experience,” UNCW Sophomore Pitcher Zarion Sharpe said. “So hopefully you learn from it, get to that point again and hopefully it’s a different result.”
Speaking of different, it will be a much different looking group from a year ago with several key pieces from last years team now gone.
In year’s past, it was the hitting that made this team run. But this year, led by the reigning conference pitcher of the year Alex Royalty, it’s the pitching staff that is creating a buzz.
“I think that’s really huge for us,” Royalty said. I think that’s what we were lacking the first two years (of my career). I think that’s going to be a huge part of our game, throwing up zeros and allow our offense to play a little small ball. Get on base, take a base, knock a run in and get a lot of momentum that way.”
With a solid pitching staff, some new faces and a OmaHawks mindset, the team is primed to get the finish fans in Wilmington want to see.
“We’ve got to stay focused and no matter when we’re playing or where we’re playing it, whatever weather it is, we have to go out there and play our best baseball,” Royalty said. “That will bring us on top.”