It was on May 25th, 2013…. the Redwolves walked off the diamond for the very last time. In a tough, hard fought game…an ending to a season that had a lot of “what if’s, maybe, and it couldn’t gone this way”…..a 5-4 lost to Florida Atlantic in the Sunbelt Conference Tournament….this, a day after they had played in a 3-2 nail-biter against Troy and with a upset win and knocking Troy out of the tournament, could this be a team of destiny?
Almost. Coming into the 2013, the Redwolves received mix reviews from the Sunbelt coaches and media. Offensively, the conference knew this team could hit, but in the field and on the mound….if I remember, the word that was used time and time again was “suspect”.
Nine games into the season and folks were already taking notice. This team looked darn good and gave a top rank Vanderbilt team all they wanted for 8 innings before losing 7-3.
Then the injury bug hit…..one of the biggest, massive blows to this team occurred…Zach George is out for the season, your 3rd in hole hitter….gone.
The cold wind and gray skies over the “Tom” gave no comfort to this team or fans. What was this team going to do…how was Coach Tommy Raffo and his staff going to deal with such a lost? Only time would tell. Piece by piece, Coach Raffo made lineup changes and moved players around to fill the gap and in the midst of all of this, the pitching staff that was “suspect”….held it together. But for how long? Many a close game, one run wins and one run losses mounted and the Redwolves hung on.
Toward the end of the season, the pressure increased, the bats got cold and losses started to pile up. But this team, with guts and intestinal fortitude trudged on and found new life in the conference tournament.
Every lesson learned last season, I feel has a positive impact. Especially for this 2014 season.
The conference polls and voting came out this week and they have ASU finishing 7th in the league. Not much respect….but, hey…that’s ok….just right where we want to be.
Zach George is back and already receiving conference recognition…Bradley Wallace the same….but don’t forget this group who fought back and fought hard together, the last part of May…..Austin Baker, Derek Birginske, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Adam Grantham, Chandler Hawkins, Dustin Jones, Stuart Levy, Zach Maggio, Collin Massanelli, Tanner Ring, Cody Woodhouse and a slew of newcomers and fresh faces to add to the core…
Tommy Raffo has made changes for this upcoming season and cleaned house to make sure the right people, the right players are representing not only the team, but this university. If the Redwolves can again get off to a fast start and stay healthy and healthy all season long….this team will surprise some folks…mark it down.
It is a long season and 31 home games will be played at Tomlinson-Kell or as we refer “The Tom”. Weather will play a big part and influence the outcome of the games. We can’t change the weather or the layout of the stadium….we can only embrace it, in all it’s glory and accept it and use it to our advantage. It is just as cold and windy for the opposition, let them suffer through it.
This reminds me of the old manager Roger Craig, who was the skipper of the San Francisco Giants. He had heard all the tales and stories of old Candlestick Park….the wind, the cold, the fog……when he took over the reins of the ball club, he embraced the adversity and changed the mind set of his team and used the elements to his advantage. We should do the same here and make “The Tom” home field advantage of us and hell for the visiting team. It all starts with a change in thinking.