Baseball Team Works on Fundamentals During Abridged Season


The baseball team had a tough season, playing only 35 of its 56 scheduled games due to weather-related cancellations. Ending the year with a 14-20-1 record, Head Coach Kip Harrison reports that the team’s disappointing stats do not adequately reflect the time and effort his players put in on the field, and the improvements they made in their game. “The main thing we do at the community college level is to help players prepare for the challenges of playing at four-year schools,” he noted.

Fundamentals were the focus. “We worked to slow the game down. We focused on one pitch, one at bat, and one inning at a time.” Harrison said that he emphasized the process rather than the outcome. “You can do things the wrong way and be successful for awhile. But eventually, that will catch up with you.”

With their first eight games cancelled, Mercer finally headed to North and South Carolina in mid-March to face teams that were already well into their seasons, coming out with just one win out of four. “We played well, but the other teams were sharper,” Harrison said. “We compressed a season into six weeks. Playing in the Northeast, that’s just the way it is.”

Harrison observed that a lack of pitchers made life more difficult for the pitchers he had. “No one pitched with full rest.” While Mercer enjoyed comfortable leads in some games, most games were tight all the way through. “For a pitcher, that’s a lot of pressure.”

Still the Vikings had some moments of glory in the Garden State Athletic Conference, including a 7-1 win over Ocean on March 31, a 17-6 win over Camden on April 4, a doubleheader victory over Atlantic 12-2 and 11-2 on April 10, and a 13-2 win over Cumberland on April 12. But the season ended all too soon, as the Vikings lost in the region play-in round against Salem, 13-3 and 8-7 on May 1.

According to Harrison team members showed character through hard times. “When players were struggling, their teammates would find a way to pick up their spirits.”

Key contributors this season were: sophomore Dan Czepiga, lead off hitter and centerfielder, who led the team in RBIs and stolen bases; freshman Mike Platas, who played third base and was selected to the All-Region first team; freshman pitcher/outfielder Bill Crawford, who batted .416 and was also named to the All-Region team; freshman first baseman Chris Foley, who batted .300 and was named to the All-GSAC second team; and infielder/pitcher John Persicketti. Sophomore Pat Sharples was strong on the mound and ended the season 4-2.

Assistant coaches this year were hitting and bench coach Fred Carella and pitching coach Ken Jones.

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