By: REBECCA KOLIMAGA
Between Anthony Lopez setting the new National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III record for triples hit in a single season and the team’s record of 49-10 last year, it’s going to be a challenge for Cumberland County College’s baseball team to have a more successful season. “It was a pretty impressive year. I’m not sure we can beat it, but I know we’re going to try,” said Head Coach Keith Gorman.
Their toughest competitors are Brookdale Community College and Rowan College at Gloucester County. Last year, they defeated Gloucester in order to make it to the World Series. To ensure more wins, they’re focusing on pitching fastballs and scoring runs any way they can, especially stealing bases. “We’re going to put pressure on those teams when we’re at the bat,” Gorman said, “then when we’re pitching, we’re going to challenge them as much as we can. We just have to let our talent take over.”
Gorman emphasized the importance of eating and training healthily. “They’re asking a lot of their bodies with the amount of games we play and if they’re not fueling it properly, they’re not going to respond the way we need them to. We talk a lot about eating, about diet, about how we work out.” According to Gorman, there are a few players that have a tendency to over-train, but the coaches are focused on keeping the players uninjured and well-informed of healthy eating and training habits. “I sometimes worry about that stuff more than balls and strikes and hits. I figure if we’re healthy, our minds will be a little more clear and our bodies will play a little bit better.”
All athletes at CCC must adhere to academic standards. They must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA, be a full-time student, complete a progress report system four times a semester and attend a mandatory study hall. These requirements are “designed to help them be successful, stay eligible and end up graduating and move on as a student athlete, hopefully to a four year institution.” Gorman observed that when athletes fail in the classroom, they usually fail on the field as well. He and the other coaches teach the players to have a balance between class and athletics so they can be “productive citizens once they leave here.”
Healthy competition is encouraged as long as the success of the team is the foremost goal. “Even though they come from different backgrounds, if they all see that the ultimate goal is to be good teammates so that we can hopefully win a championship, then everybody wants to stay together to make that work.”
Gorman fears that the players’ youth might be a challenge. “We have guys in crucial spots that haven’t been there before. They are inexperienced, they have not been through all the college battles yet.” The coaches have set up an intense schedule to help the players gain experience quickly. “We want them to be thrown into the fire and figure out how to come out of it and it gains experience. It makes young teams not as young.”