By Mark Gregory
After losing a ton of seniors from last season’s team, the Notre Dame baseball team headed into this season with a lot of questions.
However, as the season as moved on, the Dons have answered a lot of those questions.
“We lost 16 seniors from last year and we really only have two or three seniors consistently in the line up this year,” said Notre Dame coach Nelson Gord. A lot of those guys were three and even four-year varsity players and you lose the whole dynamic and you have to start all over, but I really like where we are right now.”
With only a few seniors playing regularly, there was a stretch in the beginning of the season where all parties had to work on learning each other.
“We have a lot of young players and a lot of new faces. It has been a learning curve for the players and the coaches as we have had to get to know them and what they are capable of doing,” Gord said. “I think all in all they have done a great job.”
With the learning curve in place, the Dons were not focused on the pre-conference or really even how they would fare in the always difficult East Suburban Catholic Conference, but rather on being ready come postseason time.
“Our motto for the year has been to build for June. It is not about what is happening right now, it is about what happens in the playoffs,” Gord said.
While he said all of the players are stepping up, Gord said a few have really stepped into their roles well.
“(Jackson) Kaplowitz has been the story of the season so far,” he said. “Statistically and leadership wise, he just has a presence about him that has filled some shoes that were hard to fill. I think (Paul) Bergstrom has been outstanding. He brings a calming feeling on the mound or in the field or at the plate and every day he just gets it done.
“Tim Kelly has done a nice job in his role and Aidan French has never really played third base in his life and he is a senior who has really done a nice job over there. We just have some really strong character kids that are playing well.”
Like Kelly, Gord said a lot of players have moved around the lineup because of their athleticism and ability.
“We said since day one, don’t be surprised if your name is the lineup in a place it hasn’t been,” he said. “But just know that if we are putting you out there it is because we believe you can do it and you are talented and athletic enough.”