In a year full of changes, Dons maintain status quo.
Most coaches agree that it’s hard to get a team to gel when they are all new to the program. However, that hasn’t been a problem for the SAC baseball team where 21 of the 37 players are freshmen. While team cohesion is never a guarantee, the Dons’ rookies have mixed well with the veterans and gained each other’s respect. Players agree that team chemistry is strength.
“We grew together well, second baseman Andy Peterson said. Despite all of those freshmen, the Dons won their fifth consecutive Orange Empire Conference title amid a season of milestones and equipment changes, most notably the switch to a new type of bat.
It was also the year Head Coach Don Sneddon reached 1,000 wins.
“It’s not a surprise that we won the OEC. Coach said ‘we’re going to win conference, and we are going to state,’” Peterson said.
“Skip is the best coach I’ve ever played for. He never takes a day off, won’t let us settle, and is easy to talk to,” pitcher Seth Smith said.
But the win at Orange Coast College Pirates carried more importance than a number.
“The win separated us from Orange Coast and that’s what the game was about,” Sneddon said.
“It means I’ve been here a long time,” he added.
He’s been here 30 years, and we’ll be one of the teams he remembers forever,”slugging outfielder Gary Apelian said.
The NCAA changed bat regulations. Composite bats with larger sweet spots, which created more hits and runs, are banned.
The switch is evident by the 74 percent drop in home runs. In 2011, the Dons hit 13 home runs compared to a whopping 50 last year.
This year’s Dons offense also averaged about two less runs a game, although they are still scoring more runs than opponents are.
Despite the power outage, Apelian led the Dons with eight home runs, three more than he hit last season.
“There’s a lot more bunting, and pitchers throw inside more often.”
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