Leadership, new additions bring hope of playoff run

Written By Alex Stumpf

Stating that Point Park University has a rich baseball history may be an understatement. They have gone to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) World Series ten times, which is 5th all time in section history. However, they have struggled the past few years and even though they may have ended the year with a 13-26 record, (their best record in the past three seasons) they hope to use last year’s experience as a stepping stone.There has been plenty of change for the team in the past two years. Back in July  2009, Loren Torres was introduced as the school’s eighth head coach in program history. This year they will be playing in a new stadium with a heavily re-stocked roster. This year’s squad features 23 new recruits, including 13 transfer students.”We had to make some changes,” Torres said in a phone interview. “We wanted to get some guys who can help right away. That’s why we got so many transfers. But don’t get me wrong, we also brought in a really good freshman class.”Three of the transfer students come from Elgin Community College, one of the most prestiged baseball junior colleges in the country. One of the most important transfers from Elgin was first baseman catcher, Steve Dujka.”I know Coach Torres and he seemed to know what he was doing. I wanted to be a part of this team,” Dujka said in a phone interview.Some of the freshmen that can make an impact their first year include catcher and first baseman Jonathan Tasis and right-handed pitcher James Monroe.Torres is pleased with how the team is turning out during the offseason, saying that they addressed two big needs: improving their timely hitting and depth in the bullpen.“We hit well as a team, but we could have some more timely hits,” Torres said. “We also left our starters out there [in the field] a bit too long last year, but we now have more depth in the bullpen.”Despite the fact that a large portion of the squad is new to the team this year, there is still some solid veteran leadership. One of the leaders of this year’s squad is senior infielder Bryce Pfeuffer, who earned the title of one of the team’s captains. Last season, Pfeuffer was named a baseball scholar-athlete, an award given to players who excel on the field and maintain a 3.5 GPA as well.”Being a senior, I want to go out on a high note since it’s such a special year,” Pfeuffer said in a phone interview.This is a relatively young team, and as a result there will be a tough learning curve that they aregoing to have to go through. With a hard schedule, as well, this year could result in a tough season, but Torres and Pfeuffer remain optimistic.”It’s going to come down to team chemistry,” Pfeuffer said. “We don’t need a lot of work, we just need to work as a team.”Torres on the other hand was a little more simplistic about his view on the season.”Our goal is to compete nationally. We’re going to take steps this year. How big are the steps though? That is yet to be seen,” Torres said.Even though an 11th NAIA World Series berth may require an improbable run this year, in a few years they should be able to compete nationally again. But just like Torres said, it is going to have to come in steps.