It’s been a tough first half of the season for the men’s baseball team. The Polar Bears (0-14-1) currently have no wins under their belt and have averaged just 2.67 runs per game.
“The start we got out to wasn’t what we expected,” Head Coach Mike Connolly said. “I think the best way to put it for coaches and players is that it’s frustrating.”
The team travelled to California over Spring Break to escape the Maine winter and improve its skills against top-rated teams outside of the NESCAC, but lost to all nine teams it played.
“We didn’t play great while we were there. I thought the first week we really struggled,” said Connolly. “[The] second week we played better, far more competitive, but we weren’t able to get over the hump, and we’re still working at it.”
Connolly described all the team’s spring training opponents as highly competitive, adding that those teams have been practicing outside since January—an opportunity that Bowdoin has not had. The Polar Bears practice in Farley Field House in lieu of the outside field due to snow and field conditions. However, Connolly doesn’t believe that is the reason why they have fallen short in their performance.
“Obviously, when you’re practicing indoors, it’s not ideal. But in the meantime, [Bowdoin has] had plenty of teams that have competed for championships that have had great seasons,” said Connolly. “We can certainly get prepared indoors. We get outside, we’re in a good position. I definitely wouldn’t use having to practice indoors as an excuse.”
Connolly does not believe a lack of skill is to blame for a poor record this season either, and Dan Chapski ’21 agrees.
“We have a very proportionate team,” said Chapski. “So we have a lot of good older guys that contribute. Then we have a lot of younger guys that are going to move up here and also contribute in the future. So I think we’re a very equally spread team.”
Despite the losing streak, the team’s performance has been looking up after its away game yesterday against the University of Southern Maine (USM), a team currently ranked in the top ten nationally. Although the Polar Bears lost to USM, they kept the final score within two runs, losing 6-4, an improvement from their previous games.
“You would have no idea that we have been struggling. The kids came out, they played hard and they had each others’ backs,” said Connolly. “We put ourselves in a chance to beat a really good team. We gave the No. 8 team in the country a run for their money.”
In light of a tough season, Connolly applauds the efforts and unparalleled spirit the players have demonstrated, claiming that one learns more from their failures than success.
“The resiliency, the preparation, the togetherness has been has been phenomenal,” Connolly said. “They really have a team, they have each others’ backs, the energy on the bench is fantastic.
“The effort on the field—I couldn’t ask for any more,” he added. “They are clearly working their tails off. I believe they will turn it around.”
There are still high hopes for making it to the conference championship, since the Polar Bears have nine out of 12 in-conference games left this season. The team lost its first three NESCAC games in its weekend series against Trinity (14-2, 3-0 NESCAC), but Connolly remains hopeful about a comeback.
“In the first weekend against Trinity, we slipped into a bit of a hole but [it’s] certainly something we have made our way out of and started playing better,” he said.
He believes this weekend against Colby will be a turning point in the season, hopefully putting the team in a competitive position.
“I think it’s certainly important for us to win some games this weekend and to play well,” said Connolly. “I think when we do, we’re going to put ourselves into a position where the weekends against Tufts and Bates, we will be playing for a berth, if we start playing well.”
The Polar Bears will play a doubleheader against Colby in Waterville on Saturday. On Sunday, the team returns to campus and will take on Colby at 1 p.m.