Big Year Ahead

A year ago, Bradley Roney was coming in as a freshman and wasn't sure what his role would look like on the team. Now he has a year under his belt and his role much more defined. He took a few minutes before practice today to talk to about the high expectations of the season ahead.

With last season in the rear view mirror, in reflection, many good things came out of the season that ended earlier than what the Eagle baseball team is used to.

One was the emergence of Bradley Roney, just a freshman, at the end of the bullpen as well as his play at third base. In his freshman season, Roney emerged as the closer 11 saves and an ERA of 2.42 in 26 innings.

He also hit .227 in 44 at bats as he started to emerge as the 3rd baseman toward the end of the season.

With a year under his belt, Roney is primed for another big season. It all starts, he said, right here in the first few days of practice.

"The first scrimmage we had we all felt like we did really well from both an offensive side as well as pitching," he said. "At this point you'd expect pitching to be well ahead but I feel like our offense is a step ahead where we should be at this point."

Roney said both his arm and his feel at the plate are at a great place from a confidence standpoint right now.

"I feel like I am seeing the ball well right now," he said. "I am just trying to get the kinks worked out early and just focus on making contact.

"My arm has felt good. I hadn't had any problems lately and I'm just trying to keep it in shape."

This off-season was critical for both Roney and the team, and was the catalyst for the great team chemistry that is evident today.

"Throughout the fall I have really stuck with the same pitches, and I just mainly throw a fast ball and slider," he said. "I worked on a change up but that is really just for show.

"As far as hitting has gone I have just focused more on not trying to do to much at the plate and just do the things Coach Calliet and I have been working on."

From a comfort level standpoint, Roney is miles ahead of where he was last season.

"I feel a tremendous difference from coming in and not knowing what to expect as a freshman," he said. "I was thrown into the fire. This year I feel like the team we have, we are just a lot more comfortable and we are a lot closer.

"That has made it a lot easier on everyone else, and it just doesn't feel like there is a specific class out there. It feels like one team.

"The biggest difference this year is the locker room area and everyone getting along. I'd say that is where we have grown the most."

With high expectations, Roney gave us a few keys to the team handling those in the pressure situations this season.

"People are expecting for us to do something very special and that is just what we have as well," he said. "What matters is our own expectations and what we can do on our own as a team.

"We know what this team can do, and we know what the hype that surrounds us means nothing if we don't go out there and perform. We can't get ahead of ourselves or think to highly of ourselves because baseball will knock you back down."

Roney projects to be the closer again this season after leading the team last year with 11 saves. He said overall the bullpen will be deep and talented.

"There are several Junior College guys that transferred in that will provide a tremendous lift to our pitching staff," he said. "A.J. Glasshof is one. Also Sean Buchholz and Connor Fisk are the three that jump out to you.

"Sean didn't pitch a lot in the fall because he was hurt but he's looked great here early in the spring. A.J. and Connor are guys that will immediately contribute and really make a difference for us too."

Roney also will be seeing time at 3rd base, and though the line-up isn't yet set, he knows his role both as a pitcher and infielder.

"I would definitely say my role is much clearer this year that coming in last year," he said. "There is more of a comfort level going in knowing for sure what I'm going to be expected to do.

"I'm just ready to get things started."

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