The baseball team returned from its annual trip to Florida with a record of 8-3, which is better than each of its Florida finishes in the past two seasons. The team partly credits its early success to more discipline at the plate.

“One of the big differences from last year is that we are putting together better at bats,” captain Harry Ridge ’16 said. “We’re being more careful and patient, and there have been a lot fewer five- or six-pitch innings so far.”

This approach has been the product of a strong emphasis on hitting fundamentals, which the coaches and captains have stressed since the first day of official practices in February. The pitchers and defense have caught on as well, and this has helped the players stay relaxed and focused during games.

The team’s no-nonsense attitude has already shown that it yields good results. One of the most telling numbers from the trip was that the team finished 4-0 in games decided by three runs or fewer.

“I think those games were the ones where we didn’t have any trouble throwing strikes and played good defense,” Ridge said. “When those two things happen, our offense has a clear head and isn’t pressing. They can stay more relaxed and go about things the right way.”

This year’s team also features many new starters, and so far they have seamlessly filled in the gaps left by last year’s graduating seniors.

 “I think there’s just good energy in our lineup,” captain Chris Nadeau ’16 said. “This might not be the most talented group of guys that I have seen in my four years here, but this is definitely the grittiest lineup I have seen in my time here.”

“There are so many new faces in the lineup after the same guys had been starting in the same positions forever,” he continued. “With the new guys, there’s just a different level of excitement for this season.”

The team has failed to reach the NESCAC playoffs in each of the last two seasons. Hopefully, the enthusiasm from the new starters can translate into more consistent play.

One aspect that makes the NESCAC so difficult is how few games count toward the final standings. Only the top two of five teams in the NESCAC East—Bowdoin’s division—advance to the NESCAC playoffs, where the top two teams in the NESCAC West join them. Every team in the NESCAC East plays each other three times, and the two teams with the best record at the end of those 12 games advance. This means that the margins separating teams at the end of the season are almost always very slim.

“Each of those games is like a playoff game,” Nadeau said. “Every game means a lot, and you really have to win each series to make it to the playoffs. We definitely can’t take any team for granted. Bates has made it for the last two years after missing the playoffs for I think 10 years, so we have to watch out for everyone.”

Still, the team has high expectations for the season.

“I think we will be more competitive than we have been in recent years just because there is not a weak spot anywhere in our lineup this year. We expect to win two games of every series this year,” Ridge said.

The Polar Bears will get a better sense of where they stand among NESCAC competition this weekend when they face Trinity on the road at 3 p.m. today in the first game of a three-game series.