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Baseball looks ahead to first season since start of pandemic

Team chemistry will be key to Bears’ success, Head Coach Achilles says

<p>The Bears will begin their season Feb. 25, traveling to Tennessee to face off against the University of Memphis in a three-game series.</p>

The Bears will begin their season Feb. 25, traveling to Tennessee to face off against the University of Memphis in a three-game series.

The core principles of the Brown baseball program are brotherhood, integrity and gratitude, according to Head Coach Grant Achilles. These are the pillars Achilles is hoping will support the team heading into the 2022 season, its first since the pandemic began.“The principles have to coexist in the same space because if one falls, the others collapse as well,” Achilles said. “Seeing the players carry this culture at any opportunity … is something we have truly embodied — especially through everything that has ensued the past two years.”

Heading into his eighth season with the program, Achilles will be surrounded by a new supporting cast. After the departure of Assistant Coach Mike McCormack — who Achilles said joined the San Francisco Giants’ player development team last winter  — Achilles hired Zach Hubbard as the team’s new assistant coach. Hubbard served as an assistant coach for the College of the Holy Cross baseball team last season.

The Bears have not competed since a March 8, 2020 match-up against Kennesaw State University — a result of season cancellations in the pandemic. The Bears say that they are excited to return to competition starting Feb. 25 with a trip to Tennessee in a three game series against the University of Memphis. 

The team consists of 26 players, including many new faces who haven’t made their college debuts — half of the team has yet to taste collegiate competition. But the younger players have not shown any signs of apprehension. “I am really excited for this year,” catcher Conor Cooke ’25 said. “We have the best chance at the (Ivy League) title and that’s because of the team camaraderie we’ve built so far.”

The Bears only have 13 returning players, seven of whom are seniors. For older players like right-handed pitcher Josh Wilder ’22, a return to the field is long-awaited.

“I’m really excited for the season. We have a lot of team chemistry and we have so much energy, even during the 5 a.m. (practices),” Wilder said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve all been on the field together.”

Despite multiple season cancellations, the Bears have not been idle. Many members of the team competed in summer leagues across the country, such as the Coastal Plain League, the New England Collegiate Baseball League, the West Coast League and the Florida Summer Collegiate League.

Achilles noted that this specific squad has taken preseason preparation to the next level. In addition to competitive play, many players trained over the summer and during the past two winters away from campus at Cressey Sports Performance in West Palm Beach, Fla. Since returning for their season in the middle of winter, the team has sacrificed sleep for 6 a.m. practices at an indoor facility in Foxboro, Mass.

"We are crazy excited; it’s been a long time coming. We’ve done the 5 a.m. wake ups since the week of Jan. 26 and I think the best part of making this adjustment was knowing how valuable our time is” in Foxboro, Achilles said. “The functionality of the space gives purpose to the early wake ups and has made it fun to get to this point. We feel the most prepared and are eagerly waiting with excitement to face someone else.”

Brown will open the season with 11 straight road games, 10 of which will come as part of three southern trips in February and March. The team will first head to Memphis for a three-game set against the Tigers from Feb. 25 to 27 and travel the following weekend for a three-game series at the University of South Florida. From March 11 to 13, Brown will face Gardner-Webb University in a four-game series. 

The Bears will play their first games in the Northeast the following weekend, with a neutral site matchup against Holy Cross on the Northeastern University campus March 19. 

Brown’s home opener is scheduled for March 20 as part of a split doubleheader against Holy Cross at 11:30 a.m., followed by a game against Northeastern at 3 p.m. Bruno will play at Dartmouth to open up Ivy League play in a three-game series, with a doubleheader March 26 and a single game March 27. Before the season ends, Brown will host Bryant and Holy Cross in non-conference clashes, as well as Columbia, Princeton and Cornell. Brown will also travel to face URI, Harvard, Yale and Penn.

With the start of the season just around the corner, Achilles said he could not be more impressed with how members of his team have carried themselves both on and off the field. Because of the leadership at all levels on the team, he feels that the team has an edge against any opponent.

“What I love about these guys is how they have come to learn from mistakes … all without a competitive setting,” said Achilles. “We have a group that is trying to lead all together and it has been so encouraging to see. I’m excited to see it come to fruition.” 



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