Painted on the wall opposite GW baseball Coach Tom Walter’s desk, it reads: Outclass and outwork everyone we play.
Walter must glance at this everyday as a constant reminder of what went wrong last season. It’s as if the coach wants to scribble in, We must, to the writing on the wall.
Last season, the Colonials (26-30, 10-11 Atlantic 10) did not complete their goals. Some personal marks were set, including Joe Beichert hitting his 50th career home run, a new GW record, and Mike Roberts being named to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference Team.
But Beichert and Roberts graduated last season. Reflecting on last season, Walter made it clear that the team didn’t outwork anybody it played.
We thought the A-10 would be a cakewalk, Walter said.
Walter sees that motto on his wall everyday. Now he’ll instill that motto in his team.
This season Walter pledged to have his team work harder. He blamed himself for not pushing the team, and he blamed the team for coming out lackadaisically.
Walter said he already can see a difference in the team’s approach. Just in the training – taking extra groundballs, hitting in the batting cages.
No question, they have been working harder, Walter said.
There’s fire in the belly. Or maybe the burden of the writing on the wall.
The team will travel to Florida Friday to take on Stetson University, where senior transfer Matt Walker will make his GW debut. There are high expectations for Walker, who spent two years at a junior college and one at the University of South Carolina, where he batted .259 in 24 games.
Walker will start in the outfield and bat clean-up. Walter believes Walker makes the batting order as good as anybody’s in the league. It is a powerful lineup that includes senior captain Ryan Dacey, who is expected to be an offensive force in the A-10. The senior will probably bat second for GW.
Ryan’s good for our lineup because he balances out the righties and lefties, Walter said.
Juniors Dan Rouhier and Eric Mitchell return for GW, both having started nearly every game for the Colonials last season. Rouhier batted .326 with 12 home runs. Sophomores Matt Krimmel and Mike Bassett also return for GW. Krimmel hit .337 in 49 games last year and Bassett drove in 46 runs for the Colonials.
The question this season for GW will be one of pitching.
Two pitchers who pitched over 30 percent of all innings were Ari Zagaris and Tom Baginski, both of whom graduated.
If you look at the numbers, they were only .500 pitchers, Walter said.
The rotation’s ace, junior Adam Belicic, injured his arm last season.
I think that was a blessing in disguise, Walter said. It really made Adam start taking his conditioning seriously. Now he’s doing his long toss.
Belicic has three major pitches, including a fastball that moves and fluctuates between 86 and 88 miles per hour. His best pitch is the curveball.
Also new this year, GW hired its first experienced pitching coach, Dennis Healy. Healy pitched for four years at GW and then coached at Cleveland State University for three seasons. He’ll have his hands full with the freshman pitchers.
The four newcomers are Greg Conden, Dennos Gramolini, Glen Skutnk and southpaw Marc Cappelletti.
We have to look toward conference play, Walter said. The key is, for the next six weeks; it’s build to conference play. They’ll have 30 innings. They won’t be freshmen anymore.
For Walter and the players, the key is to not just see the writing on the wall: Outclass and outwork everyone we play. It’s to live and die by it.