Thursday, May 27, 2010

Awards Night

The 2nd Annual Players' Choice Awards concluded this evening on President Wilde's lawn. This was a welcome change of venue from last year's locale of the world wide web. I guess that's what happens when you complete one of the best turnarounds in school history, and probably the best in college baseball this year. However, the success of a season should never diminish the contributions of each and every player, and it should never impact the way teammates work together.

But what would an awards night be without the thank yous? So here we go...First to President Wilde for being so hospitable to the team tonight. For showing up to nearly every, if not all of our home games, and for grinding it out in the rain at Schaumburg. To Coach Bogan for providing the inspiration for the awards, and also the funding. And finally to Coach Cavenagh for just being around. There isn't a player on the roster who hasn't been helped by TC, whose impact far exceeds the dimensions of the ball field.

So without any further ado, the 2010 Players' Choice Awards...

Scholar Baller: Matt Abraham
Teammate(s): Justin Moriarty & Andrew Wulbecker
Gold Glove: Dan Scott
Quality At-Bat: Nick Robinson
Most Improved: Peter Romanello
Newcomer: TJ Hecimovich
Pitcher: Nate Arenson
Slugger: Nick Robinson
MVP: Nick Robinson

A note on the Red Bat Award by Coach Bogan:
The final award is a new award sponsored by Coach Cavenagh. It is an award that TC hopes will become a coveted achievement among the North Central baseball team. A coach, adviser, professor, but most of all, friend to the program, TC exudes exactly what the Red Bat Award is meant to represent. His contributions, efforts and presence have been beacons of inspiration and guidance for those associated with the Cardinal baseball program.

The player that earns the Red Bat Award, is the player who contributed to the success of the team whether it be on the field, in the dugout, in the locker room, at team dinners, or while hanging out with the guys. This player is one who is viewed by all as a positive influence on the Cardinal baseball program.

Second, the Red Bat Award honors the Cardinal whose effort in the classroom should be recognized. The player need not maintain a 4.0, but instead show signs of consistency and improvement while exhibiting a disciplined work ethic and a thirst for knowledge.

In addition to these facets, the player who earns the Red Bat Award gives back to the community, whether it be on campus or in Naperville. Providing service and representing the North Central baseball team in a positive light is a natural characteristic of this award's recipient.

And now the finalists: Nick Robinson, Peter Romanello, Dan Scott and Andrew Wulbecker
And the Red Bat Award goes to...Dan Scott

Congratulations to all the award winners in 2010! Thanks for hanging around. There is still more to come so consider this the 7th inning stretch. Stay tuned for the Season in Review: Shutterbug Edition, a few promised videos (they're still in the editing room), and a little bit more. See you at the ballpark!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

And the Dundee Goes to...

It's award season in college baseball and many of the Cardinal players should be knotting their black ties. On Tuesday, the CCIW coaches made their selections for all-conference honors, and the Cardinal presence was felt throughout the list. Catcher Michael Corrigan became the seventh Cardinal in program history to be named CCIW Player of the Year, which also placed him on the first team along with pitcher Nate Arenson, shortstop Nick Robinson, and designated hitter Joe Turek. Joining the party as second-team honorees were third baseman Peter Romanello, outfielder Dan Scott, and pitchers TJ Hecimovich, Mike Kloss and Kevin Krajewski. Both Corrigan and Kloss are making repeat appearances among the conference's best. Both players earned second team honors last season. Coach Fitzgerald rounded out the list by earning Coach of the Year honors.

The Central Region honors were released yesterday and four of the ten Red Birds recognized from the CCIW, were recognized by the regional committee as well. Arenson, Corrigan, Kloss and Robinson all received second-team honors while Corrigan and Scott were recipients of the Gold Glove Award.

Normally, it would be a fitting end to a great season but we have the Dundees, I mean the Players' Choice Awards tomorrow. Follow the links to read the full release on the
CCIW and the Central Region award winners. Stay tuned to The Cave's Twitter page for the Players' Choice Awards play-by-play tomorrow at 5:30 pm.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Power of 10

There's an old saying that all good things must come to an end. But what about great things? I guess they are not immune either as our postseason run came to an end yesterday. The resurgence of Cardinal baseball will have to be put on hold until next fall, officially. But the truth is, next year has already begun.

It's good to have an end to journey toward but it's the journey that matters in the end. 2010 was an amazing year! I would like to thank the senior class for their part in this great season. As Fit mentioned yesterday in his postgame remarks, they have endured their share of losses. But they are redeemed after one of the best years in school history and the best turnaround in nearly forty years. And they are rewarded for grinding it out for four years and not packing it in because the situation was difficult. They can walk around campus and across the stage in a few weeks with their heads held high knowing they helped give recruiting pitches new life. No longer are our goals and our vision just lip service. They now have an identity. The next time anyone from this class returns to The Zimm, they can look proudly upon the newly-painted "2010" that will appear on the side of the stadium knowing they were the architects of the return of Cardinal baseball.

I would also like to thank the entire team for renewing my beliefs in hard work and sacrifice. For renewing the notion that great things will happen if you are willing to put in the work. Too many times these are just buzzwords that go unrewarded. All year we talked about "Deserving to Win: and how no one is going to give us anything. Well, we deserved it! From the first 6am workout in the fall to the last 5am practice in the winter, we put in the work. There is not a magic formula to accomplishing what we did. There is no secret to winning. The only way to get there are with the usual suspects: blood, sweat and tears...and a lot of elbow grease. It also takes everyone on the team to be on the same track. To believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. This year, we got through the tunnel; and for ten weeks we were kings, and that is something that should fuel us for the next three months until we can begin a new journey.

Finally, I would like to thank our fans and mostly our parents, whose support all season made it all the more fun to go to the ballpark. For the dozens of cars that faithfully followed us to Ohio and Florida, and who monopolized parking lots across the CCIW. We played not only for ourselves and each other on the field, but for everyone that has ever supported us. For everyone who has sacrificed part of their own lives to give us the opportunity for success. For everyone who put their lives on hold so they could share in the journey. This is also for you.

To all in the Cardinal family, thank you for a great season! Despite it being the end of the season, there are still a few more posts on the way. Stay tuned for the Player's Choice Awards, a few videos, and some other odds and ends. Until next time...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bus Leaves 1:30

There's not too much to say about this upcoming week that hasn't already been said or at the very least thought, but we've been given something that few teams or players ever get and that's a second chance. This is no doubt a huge step for our program returning to form but there is a lesson to be learned here. Yes, the conference tournaments are very important and there is a lot of emphasis put on them, as there should be. But it is reassuring to know there is still value placed on the grind of a 40-game regular season and a grueling 21-game conference schedule (the CCIW was able to get three teams in the tournament for the third time in the last four years, so that should tell you something about the level of play in the conference).

So as the program moves forward beyond this week and into next year, it is important to remember that even though many teams can get hot at the right time of year and advance to the postseason, every single day and every single practice does matter throughout the
entire year and does make a difference in the types of teams we become later on.

We are departing for Moline later today for our workout at Brunner Field. There won't be too many posts during the week, but stay tuned to
The Coach's Cave Twitter feed for updates on the week. We hope to see the Red Bird Alliance out in full force. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Conference Champions

It fit like a glove. The situation that is. We had one of our most dominant and our most consistent pitchers on the mound who mowed down the first two hitters of the 9th inning. The 27th out, always the toughest to get, was a routine ground ball hit to our shortstop. The final out was recorded by a player who is having one of the best single seasons in school history. None of us really knew what to expect after the moment the ball entered the first baseman's glove but that's because no one has experienced anything quite like it. With all the excitement that comes with winning a conference title, the mood was somewhat reserved and didn't stray too far from our moods after every other win this season. While there are times to let loose, the team had collectively decided that there would be much more at stake later this week and this was in essence, "just another win."

With that said, I will defer the remainder of my post to senior/outfielder Justin Moriarty for another feed from the Correspondents.

16-24, 14-23, 11-25-1......31-7! The senior class has certainly endured their fair share of agony during their time in Cardinal uniforms. However, on Sunday we all reached a plateau unlike anything else we have experienced in college and that is an outright conference championship. It is easy to bicker and moan about waking up at 5am in the dead of winter, scrambling to fit in a bullpen or hitting session into your daily schedule, and trying to balance a rigorous academic schedule while attempting to be a part of a team. As part of my personal education background with teaching we are taught to constantly reflect. Reflect on the methods used in the classroom, whether they were effective or ineffective, and what you can do to improve. Reflecting back on all the work that was put in and effort that was exerted by the team to make it to this point is also worth while. At times you may internalize questions like, “Why the heck am I going through all this trouble?” Well I’ll tell you why. It’s for opportunities like this upcoming weekend. Yes, we won the CCIW regular season, but we’re not finished yet.

In the past it would have been a joy to just be a part of the conference tournament. But this is not the past. We as a team are fortunate enough to play this weekend in front of family and friends at our own yard in hopes of extending our season for yet another weekend doing what we love to do; what we sacrifice to do. We have the opportunity to extend our time together as a team. In the past we just played out schedules looking ahead to refocus our priorities back to closing out the school year on a strong note academically. This year we look ahead to make history. We’re as hungry as we were on February 1st and that is a testament to the group of guys we have. This will be the last weekend the Cardinals will be in action at The Zimm during the 2010 campaign. The team looks forward to seeing an enthusiastic crowd come out and support us in hopes of continuing this remarkable journey.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

So What Has Changed?

For my latest post, I am bringing back a feature from last season that I enjoyed but have gotten away from this year and that is reaching out to the correspondents. Once again, I pass the keyboard to senior/outfielder Justin Moriarty. Take it away JMo. Ed. Note: The post was written prior to today's 4-3 win v. Augustana.

I have found this to be a reoccurring question among former players, students, faculty and staff when wanting to learn more about the remarkable turn around for our team. How could virtually the same core of guys from an 11-25-1 team a year ago currently be 27-5 and knocking on the door of a conference championship and regional berth? Maybe it was the addition of the Res/Rec building? No, I don’t think that’s it although the Res/Rec building is a fantastic facility to practice in. Maybe it was the addition of Joe Heller to the coaching staff? No, I don’t think that’s it either. Joe is a great addition because he brings a player’s perspective to Coach Fitzgerald, but his addition was not the main reason for this turn around.

Apart from the obvious reasons of why we’re doing so well: we catch the ball, hit the ball in timely situations, and have much better pitching this year, there is something else to note. Collectively, our group of young men exhibits a much better understanding of what their roles are on the team and they try and execute those roles to the best of their abilities. It doesn’t matter if you are a main producer in the middle of the lineup or a defensive replacement/pinch runner. The attitude of “I” has changed to “WE” and it has certainly been an amazing thing to observe. Pitchers are not blaming hitters for not scoring enough runs; hitters are not blaming pitchers for not throwing strikes. This team picks each other up like no other team I’ve been apart of and it is extremely fun to watch. The individualist attitude of people no longer affiliated with the program is not missed by any means.

I used to wonder how the power teams in the CCIW got to the level of being so good. I have since learned it was just a mental edge those teams had on us. This year we have bought into program philosophies and have had some tremendous leadership. We have a few guys having the season of their lives which is great to see. Going into the last weak of the season everybody is looking up at us wondering So What Has Changed? Let them keep wondering….