YSU baseball team hits the road and the books
By Charles grove
Student-athletes have to balance it all. There’s practices, classes, study tables, homework, games and workouts.
Throw in road trips and you’re cranking it up to 11.
The Youngstown State baseball team is a prime example of all those stressors coming into play at once.
The Penguins travel the first five weekends of their season. This weekend YSU visits Georgia Tech while next weekend it’s Eastern Kentucky (with a mid-week stop at Morehead State), then it’s Richmond and finally Illinois-Chicago to open Horizon League play.
For these full-time college students, they’ll take any chance they get on these road trips to keep up on their classes.
“I try to get everything done before we leave,” YSU junior first baseman Andrew Kendrick said. “We usually have a few hours in the hotel where you can get some work done, though.”
Senior pitcher Kevin Yarabinec tries to take advantage of more non-traditional classes to help with the time he would normally be missing on these road trips.
“I have a couple of online classes so I can still do those on the road trips,” Yarabinec said. “Usually I just try to get stuff done early, but the professors and teachers are usually pretty lenient with it all.”
Upperclassmen know a bit more of how to handle being on the road most of the week than freshman catcher and Boardman graduate Lou Cardona.
“The fall semester gave me at least a little bit of an idea of what to expect,” Cardona said. “When I’ve got any downtime I’m on my laptop doing work and studying things that I missed since I’m always emailing my professors back and forth. It’s definitely different [than high school].”
In between late-night hotel papers and online lectures there has been time for baseball. The Penguins dropped their first three games by a combined score of 36-13 but many of the players were just happy to get back onto an actual baseball diamond instead of being cooped up in the Watson and Tressel Training Site.
“Getting on the field is tremendous after being inside for four months,” Yarabinec said. “It’s great that we have the WATTS, but it’s nothing like getting on a field.”
Kendrick sure made the most of his time on the playing field. The junior hit five home runs in three games and drove in 11 of the teams 13 runs so far. He was named the National Hitter of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, the Horizon League Player of the Week by College Sports Madness and the Horizon League named him the Batter of the Week.
“We’ve been hitting live in the WATTS every day for a month now just getting swings in,” Kendrick said. “It felt a little rusty playing other competition instead of your teammates, but after the first couple of pitches you get used to it just like any other game.”
First-year head coach Dan Bertolini said the pitching staff is a bit out of sorts after being shuffled around while senior starting pitcher Jeremy Quinlan continues to heal from an offseason shoulder injury.
“The pitching has to continue to develop,” Bertolini said. “We’re asking some guys to do some things they’re probably not accustomed do while we wait for Quinlan to get healthy.”