As new season dawns, Whitman baseball hopes to escape its past


Photo Credit : Jacobson

Photo Credit : David Jacobson

If Whitman’s baseball team is searching for hope as a new season rapidly approaches, the recent past is probably the wrong place to look. Since 2003-2004: the team’s last 10-win season: success on the diamond has eluded Whitman’s grasp with striking regularity. In each of the past two seasons, the team has won just three of its 37 games. However, with an infusion of new blood in both its coaching staff and its roster, Whitman may have reason to believe that this season will be more fruitful than the ones that have preceded it.

Much of Whitman’s newfound hope hinges on the renovation that has taken place within its coaching staff. Jared Holowaty, formerly a star outfielder for 2002 NCAA Division III national champion Eastern Connecticut State College and an assistant coach for Division I’s University of Maine, will replace Casey Powell as the team’s head coach.

Holowaty believes that coaching Whitman is “a good situation” for him and that his experience in Division I, where he was able to pick the brains of high level coaches, will help his players.

To this point, senior outfielder and pitcher Brian Kitamura: one of the team’s two captains, along with  junior Erik Korsmo: seems pleased with the addition of Holowaty.

“Coach Holowaty has been great for us. He brings a lot of energy, an outstanding baseball background and a new mentality to our team, which has helped us improve each time we step on to the field,” said Kitamura.

The improvements within the coaching staff do not end with Holowaty; Pitching Coach Mark Michaud  joins incumbent Assistant Coach Sean Kinney to assist Holowaty in his coaching endeavors.  Michaud previously served as an assistant coach at Eastern Connecticut, after stints at NCAA Division I schools  Siena College and the University of Maine and Division III’s Rockford College and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

Photo Credit : David Jacobson

For Kitamura, the new coaches bring not only valuable past experience, but a bright future.

“The past is in the past for good and we’re excited to start building a championship program,” he said, referring to  Holowaty, Michaud  and the attitude that they have brought with  them.

While it is highly unlikely that Whitman will transform itself into a championship program overnight, winning more games than it has in recent seasons may be an attainable feat. At the very least, it is a more reasonable short-term goal.

In spite of the team’s relatively small roster, Kitamura expects considerable improvement in the win-loss department.

“I expect for us to vastly improve upon our win totals from previous seasons and for our team to play to the best of our ability all the time,” said Kitamura.

While Holowaty  is less focused  on wins, he too hopes that the team will improve and seems to believe that it will.

Holowaty said, “My expectation for the guys is just to improve every day and to take pride in the work ethic…I’m very happy with how hard they’ve worked.”

Whitman’s roster, which Kitamura believes is extremely unified, includes key returning players: Kitamura, senior Jason Sease, senior Blaine Mercado, Korsmo, junior Patrick Stauffer and sophomore Peter Olson: and a promising group of incoming first-years.

“We’re versatile, have the right mindset and are going to play the game the right way. The freshmen who have come in have already made a huge impact and everyone who’s returning has experience to draw from playing at the college level,” Kitamura said.

The new coach’s feelings towards the roster are similarly  positive.

After applauding his seniors for the willingness with which they have bought into a new and relatively grueling program, Holowaty said of the team as a whole: “We’ve got an athletic group.   They’re a pleasure to coach.”

Though Kitamura and Holowaty’s words are encouraging and perhaps even convincing, actually improving is far more difficult than talking about doing so during the preseason. No matter how viable the idea that the new coaches and new players offer a fresh start may seem, it is yet to be seen whether three win seasons are truly a thing of the past.

Beginning with three games in Anthem, Ariz. between Feb. 11  and 13: against Whittier College, La Verne University and Occidental College: the team will have a chance to decisively prove whether or not its present and future are less futile than its past.