By BEN JOHNSON
In any sport, every team has a certain aspect it clings to. At times, it becomes such a strength that a team will lean on it as the season drags along.
Northeastern State coach Travis Janssen is hoping he can count on strength from every aspect of his team in 2014.
“I really hope that we are a balanced team,” Janssen said when asked that the crux of his club is likely to be in 2014. “With the home runs that we hit last year, I think we had the reputation of being a strong offensive team. I thought there were key times of the year last year that we really pitched well, but the home runs did over-shadow that.”
In order for the RiverHawks’ pitching to be equally as comparable as its potent offense, they’ll have to improve upon their 6.50 earned run average last season.
“We like our pitching this year,” Janssen said. “We have to do better job of attacking hitters and make them put the ball in play. There were periods last year where we walked to many and gave the opponents to many free bases. They have worked hard and I feel like we have a chance to have a good pitching staff. I’m excited about our pitching.”
1-2 power punch: When it came to hitting home runs in 2013, there weren’t many better in the nation than NSU’s Cody Robinson. Well, except for his teammate, Kyle Singleton.
Both Robinson and Singleton clubbed 16 home runs apiece, which tied them for second in the nation in 2013. Only Central Washington’s Kyle Sani finished with more home runs (18) last season.
So, would Janssen classify Robinson and Singleton as the best one-two punch on offense in 2014?
“It’s a fair question,” Janssen said, “but I can’t comment on what other people have.”
Singleton finished last season with 58 runs batted in, while Robinson has 56.
“They are important,” Janssen said. “I’m very happy that they’re wearing the green and black. But we’ll have guys around those two that are pretty good hitters as well.”
Aside from the pop in their bats, Janssen said his middle-of-the-lineup guys are even better program players.
“The big part of it is what kind of guys and teammates they are,” Janssen said. “They’re both great team guys and they want what is best for NSU Baseball.”
Do-it-all David: While Robinson and Singleton smack long ball after long ball, they have one teammate who produces solid numbers while circulating all over the field.
His name: David Weber.
“David is the straw that stirs the drink,” Janssen said. “If you asked every one of our players who ‘our leader’ is, every player would say David Weber. Every one of them told me that individually in December.”
In 2013, Weber logged time at catcher and left field, while making cameos in right field and designated hitter. He proceeded to hit .347 with 41 runs scored and a .419 on-base percentage.
“A lot of coaches say they don’t have leadership, [but] we are fortunate that David is in our program from a leadership standpoint,” Janssen said. “He may catch, play left field, play second base, play center field...he can do it all. He is a ball player. He is the first team captain we have named in three seasons here. He is a great ambassador for our program.”