West Windsor, N.J. – According to Mercer County Community College (MCCC) Baseball Head Coach Kevin Kerins, the only thing stopping the MCCC Vikings right now is the weather.
“These guys practiced and played a tough fall schedule. They have been conditioning and practicing indoors this winter. They are ready to get outside,” Kerins said.
With Mother Nature’s cooperation, the Vikings will play their first home games on Feb. 28 in a doubleheader against UConn-Avery Point, starting at noon. By the end of the regular season, they hope to complete an ambitious 56-game schedule, including nine games at the Ripkin Experience tournament in Myrtle Beach, SC, from March 13 to 18.
The team officially kicked off its season at the annual First Pitch Dinner, held at the MCCC Conference Center on Feb. 12. Guest speaker was former MCCC Baseball Coach Rick Freeman, who recalled his 1996 team’s championship season and NJCAA World Series berth and its repeat performance in 1997.
Freeman advised current players to give it their all in every game. “Treat each day like someone is watching you for the first time. And always keep in mind who we represent – family, faith and the Mercer County Community College Vikings.”
Pre-season predictions put the Vikings in contention for national success. College Baseball magazine ranked the Vikings no. 5 in pre-season polls, while the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) has awarded them a no. 4 ranking in Division 2. Mercer is predicted to win the NJCAA’s Northeast District (Regions 19 and 20).
Six sophomores were named among Top Returning Players for the Northeast District: catcher David Osnato, outfielders Eddie Ashley and Joe Santospago, first baseman Brandon Kirk, and pitchers Matt Gall and Nate Vahedi. Named to the Top Incoming Freshmen list is pitcher Mark Scarpa.
Of course, Kerins is the first to note that all the predictions are based on statistics. But given the talent, work ethic and enthusiasm of this squad, Kerins is confident the Vikings are ready to prove the analysts true.