The William Jewell College baseball team is kicking off its 2017 season Feb. 13 against Cameron University. This season opener will be an away game in Lawton, Okla., with home games beginning March 3. However, while spectators will see these games as a debut for many of the new first-years, it is actually a continuation.
“We revel in preparation,” says Mike Stockton, the head baseball coach.
Under Stockton’s leadership, old and new players alike have been practicing since the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. Practice schedules for baseball and softball run the longest out of all of Jewell’s sports teams, but the spring season makes for a worthy payoff.
Last year, the Jewell team had a 32-22 record, and it’s aiming ever higher with the new season. While its primary goal is to compete in a championship, Stockton promises that the team’s focus will always center on community and hard work, both on and off the court.
“Individual recognition is going to come from team accomplishment,” says Stockton.
For these reasons, all players are seen as “players to watch” with equal potential. This welcoming environment not only brings loyal alumni to the games, but has also earned the team a promising assortment of first-years. This year’s team is made up of more new members than typical of Jewell’s baseball history and, as such, could bring a fresh and unpredictable spin to this season. Some, as Stockton proudly states, could be future Major League Baseball draft picks.
However, the past few years have marked a new path for Jewell baseball for more reasons than one. With the Royals’ World Series victory in 2015, baseball culture has swept throughout Kansas City, even trickling down to its college teams. This translates to more people striking up conversations with Jewell players—and to more attendance at games.
The Cardinals play their first home game against Bemidji State University March 3, at 2 p.m.