Captain’s Corner

Michael Diakunczak, Columnist

Parker Abate, senior outfielder, made an appearance in this column last spring.   However, after an unforgettable 2018 season for the mighty Cougars, Abate offered to come back to let off some steam for the upcoming 2019 season.

“It seems like this year coming up is more important than any other successful season we have had, especially last year, despite what we accomplished,” he said.

Let’s first reminisce about the historic journey that was the 2018 baseball season, the greatest in program history.   It is absurd to imagine how good this season had to be to rise above others. This program has myriad accolades, such as countless MAC Freedom titles, winning seven consecutive titles going into this season. The team was also ranked 15 in the country for Division III a few years back.

The 2018 Cougars finished with a 37-15 record, as well as 18-4 in conference play. As expected, the Cougars rolled to their eighth straight MAC Freedom title. The incredible journey just begins there. After intense games against teams such as Virginia Wesleyan, Rowan, and Babson in the regional rounds, the Cougars pulled through with a Mid-Atlantic Regional championship and advanced to the 2018 DIII World Series for the first time ever. Can it get any better? Just wait.

The Cougars shot out the gun and defeated the top-seeded Randolph-Macon in the first game. Eventually, the Cougars fell in a rematch and to the 2018 National Champion UT-Tyler. Moreover, the Cougars finished seventh in the nation in DIII baseball, which is the highest ranking ever in the program.

Now that’s what Abate was talking about. As a senior, he has to lead a pack going into a 2019 season with a heavy burden.

“It might have been the greatest season ever.  However, that was last year. This upcoming season, as a team, we need to have expectations to find a way to do even better,” Abate said.

This is a team with a target on its back. Opposing teams are looking to prevail, motivated by besting one of the best.

“But the funny part is, there is a plot twist. We have a target just as big on all our opponents because they are what is in the way of us finishing first in the country,” he said.

Catch Abate and the reigning MAC Freedom and Mid-Atlantic Regional champion Cougars in February when the 2019 season begins.