Column: Despite disappointing end to season, MSU baseball has much to be proud of
Despite a season hindered by injuries, inconsistency and key Big Ten losses, the foundation has been set by the departing senior class of the MSU baseball team and head coach Jake Boss Jr.
A young MSU team (33-17, 12-9 Big Ten) ended the season on a sour note, falling short of receiving a bid to the Big Ten Tournament.
Finishing No. 7 in a well-rounded Big Ten Conference, Boss hopes that next year’s team will be more competitive.
“I still think it’s a team that has a chance to contend for a championship,” Boss said. “(It’s ) frustrating that there’s so many ups and down, but maybe (that’s) understandable because of the youth that we had.”
Losing senior captain Jordan Keur to a torn Achilles in early April left a void of talent and experience in the Spartans’ lineup.
With two freshman, six sophomores and one junior in the regular lineup, the Spartans lost focus in crucial midweek Big Ten play, according to Boss.
MSU showed promise, sweeping No. 1 Indiana and winning series against No. 2 Ohio State and No. 5 Illinois. However, losing a crucial series against Iowa along with being swept by conference-rival Michigan showed the Spartans’ inexperience.
“We seemed to lack a little bit of focus when we were playing teams that we felt we were better than,” Boss said. “That can’t happen in conference play when everybody is capable of beating everybody. It’s a sign of a young team.”
With six sophomores in the starting lineup, the majority of the team next year will be juniors. Boss expects good leadership out of the junior class.
With go-to starter and senior Andrew Waszak departing, the Spartans will depend on the young talent in the rotation and bull pen next season.
Sophomore Mick VanVossen (5-2, 2.97 ERA) was solid for the Spartans, along with freshman Anthony Misiewicz (5-1, 1.60 ERA) from the bull pen.
Boss not only emphasizes the importance of excellence on the field, but also in the community.
The Spartans participated in the Miracle League of Mid-Michigan for the second straight year. The Miracle League provides children and young adults with special needs the opportunity to play baseball in a safe, inclusive and fun environment.
Under Boss, the Spartans have accomplished four consecutive 30-win seasons, one Big Ten championship, two Big Ten Tournament appearances, and one NCAA Tournament bid.
Also under Boss, the senior class became the winningest class in MSU history, with a winning percentage of .618. Seniors Jordan Keur, Andrew Waszack and Joe Zwierzynski are the only players remaining from Coach Boss’s first recruiting class.
Boss believes there’s hope on the other side for a young Spartan team that fell just short.
“I still think the future is bright, (we’ve) got a lot of talented guys that are young (and we’ve) got some talented guys coming in,” Boss said.