By Devin Jones
A brotherly atmosphere and a better understanding of how competitive Ontario University Athletics (OUA) can be helped the Ryerson Rams baseball team double their win total in only their second year in the league.
Last year during their inaugural season, the Rams were at a disadvantage from the start. Facing established baseball programs like the Brock Badgers and Laurier Goldenhawks, the Rams only managed a record of 3-19. With a better understanding of the competition and the league itself, the Rams turned their hard-earned experience into action during their sophomore season, finishing 6-12, just out of a playoff spot.
“As a first-year team, we didn’t know if we could hang in there with the really good teams. This year was different. This year we knew we could play at their level,” shortstop Mark Teri said. “Knowing what we were capable of was a big mindset difference.”
Shaking off a slow start, after losing 10 of their first 12 games, the Rams came together during the latter half of the season. Starting with a 12-2 late September victory over the Queen’s Gaels, the team went on a five-game winning streak that extended into October.
Despite losses early in the season, the Rams were never down and out. Head coach Ben Rich said he and his staff tried to turn mistakes into “teachable moments.” The coaching staff’s plan this season was work hard and focus on the fundamentals of the game.
That strategy propelled the Rams to 151 hits and 83 runs, something Rich is proud of the team for.
“It was all about continuing to build the program and getting guys to understand the approach we wanted to take,” he said. “Our big theme was fundamentals and control, as well as always working hard.”
The hope of becoming a school sanctioned team has been looming over the season. Ryerson athletics and Rich will sit down soon to discuss if the team will get funding from the university.
“I hope they recognize the effort we’ve put in this year, and that we’ve been making progress,” said outfielder Jason Te. “It’d be nice if they realized that we’re a serious program and that we only want to get better.”
Off-season weight training for the team starts in the next few weeks with indoor team training starting in January. Next fall, with or without funding, the team will be back on the diamond.