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Slow start ignites spartan surge

by Lauren Karowski

The University of Tampa Baseball Team is off to a strong start this season with a 7-3 record. The team took home the Division II NCAA National Championship last year, bringing the program’s overall total to eight championships.

“The teams goals are the same every year, to win another national championship. For guys that played here last year, we are trying to repeat the success we had a year ago,” said senior LHP pitcher, Colton Widdows. “The team prepares for success by not only putting in quality work but also keeping a relaxed outlook on the season. We play with a relaxed mindset and that allows us to capitalize on opportunities.”

Despite starting with a 11-3 loss against Mount Olive, who is ranked seventh, the Spartans have been heating up. With a batting average of 0.299 and an on base percentage of 0.397, they’ve been able to dominate teams such as Post, finishing 20-0 and winning the three game series.

“The season so far has been a little up and down as we are still trying to get things going,” said senior third baseman Sam Frietas. “We got off to a bit of a rough start but have been playing well as of late and plan to continue working towards being more consistent both on offense and on the mound.”

The Spartans season will continue with a home series against Florida Tech on Friday-Saturday, Feb. 28-29. As the season progresses the team will also face teams such as Albany State, Nova Southeastern and Rollins in three game series, leading up to the National Championship Series beginning May 30.

A must watch series will take place on Friday-Saturday, April 17-18 as the Spartans take on Barry University at home. Barry is currently ranked first in the SSC with a 9-0 record as of Saturday, Feb. 22.

The Spartans are coached by six time National Coach of the Year recipient, Joe Urso, and 2018 National Assistant Coach of the Year, Sam Militello. In his time as head coach, Urso has led the team to 13 Sunshine State Conference titles and 11 NCAA South Regional championships.

“Coach Urso is very good at what he does. He is able to really evaluate what kind of team we have and put a plan together that gets the most out of everyone,” said Freitas.

“Just sitting and watching the games, it’s clear to see how passionate Coach Urso is. He’s constantly encouraging and motivating the players from the sidelines,” said senior finance major Cecelia DiNciola. “He really cares about the players and you can see it.”

Junior first baseman Dan Sullivan will be a player to watch this season. After leading Tampa to a road series victory at Carson-Newman University, Sullivan was named SSC Division II Offensive Player of the Week. He previously played for Oakton Community College, where he led the nation in RBI (89), finished second in total bases (156) and home runs (16).

The Spartans season will continue with a home series against Florida Tech on Friday-Saturday, Feb. 28-29.

Lauren Karowski can be reached at lauren.karowski@spartans.ut.edu

 

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