By Steven Eggert
The Rider baseball team is trying to get back to its winning ways as the team heads to South Carolina today to face Charleston Southern (4-9) for a three-game series this weekend. Both teams have had their share of struggles early in the season.
Charleston Southern will be playing a three-game series for the first time since the weekend of Feb. 24-26. The Buccaneers have lost seven of their last eight games and have had difficulties scoring runs — they’ve scored less than two runs per game during the slump.
The Broncs were swept in a four-game series to Appalachian State (10-2) last weekend, and lost a game on Tuesday afternoon to Lafayette (3-5) by a score of 6-3.
Senior centerfielder Brandon Cotten realizes the team has struggled recently, but feels there’s still a lot of season left for them to improve.
“This was a tough weekend for us and we got beat up pretty good the last two games,” Cotten said. “We just have to stick with it and things will start to go our way. Our southern trip is going to be tough for us but we just have to play better. It’s early in the season and once things start clicking for us we are going to be a scary team.”
So far this season, the Broncs have played all nine games on the road, and will not play their first home game until March 24. Of its nine games, Rider has played in three doubleheaders.
Cotten feels that despite the impact of constant road games, the wins on the road are important in order to prepare for games later in the season.
“[Playing on the road] is very tiring but it makes no difference whether or not we play away or at home,” Cotten said. “We have to win at both places. When it comes down to conference play we can’t play every game at home, so you get used to playing on the road and winning no matter what.”
The Broncs have also relied on a lot of youth. Out of the 30 players on the roster, ten are freshmen, and each of them has contributed already.
As one of just five seniors on the team, Cotten feels he has to be a leader to the younger players, hoping they respond in a positive way throughout the season.
“I have to be a leader to the younger guys,” Cotten said. “When I was a freshman I was always looking up to the older guys and they helped me out. So I try to lead by example and hopefully they follow.”
It’s early in the season and the Broncs are trying to find their identity. When they finally do, Cotton believes the team will be a dangerous one in the conference.
“When our chemistry clicks, we are going to be a scary team,” Cotten said. “We have 30 guys who are rooting for each other and trying to win a MAAC championship, and at the end of the day, that is our ultimate goal.”