By: Daniel Torres/Staff Writer
The FIU baseball team ended their 2018 season with a record of 26-28 with back-to-back losses to Florida Atlantic University and Louisiana Tech in the Conference USA championship. To prepare for their upcoming season, the team had a scrimmage on Friday, Feb. 1. During the team’s practice, the team worked well together, with the hitters adjusting to the small changes in wind, according to Coach Mervyl Melendez.
“It was a good offensive day especially how the wind was blowing and batting against top arms in the program,” said Melendez.
While watching the scrimmage, Melendez was pleased that his hitters were able to take advantage of the pitching mistakes. It was a learning lesson for the pitchers, according to Melendez, and gave them a chance to fix their mistakes before the season starts.
The team will have great hitting and pitching, according to Melendez. But, he knows that scrimmages and games are different. When baseball season starts, Melendez knows that things could change during games.
“You don’t really know until you’re under the lights come game time,” said Melendez.
Although the team’s pitching was good, Melendez does think they can improve the bullpen from the middle of the game towards the end as well as their starting pitchers being able to go deep into the game.
“If our starting pitchers can go five to seven innings, I think we will be in really good shape this year,” said Melendez.
The newcomers to the team have made great improvement since the fall season as most of them were the ones hitting home runs during the scrimmage. Among the new players is Rhett Rutledge. The utility player from Northern Oklahoma College was able to hit two home runs to the right field against the wind.
The Panthers kick-off their 2019 season with a home game against Stony Brook University. Melendez has high hopes for this season and is looking forward to the game.
“I think Stony Brook traditionally has always had a good program. In 2012 they made the college world series, even though this is not the same team they’re still in the right direction and very well coached,” said Melendez.
Featured Image by: Daniel Torres/PantherNOW