Big Green baseball favored to win the Ancient Eight
After winning the Red Rolfe Division, Big Green baseball ended its season with a difficult loss to Princeton in last May's Ivy Championship. Though disheartening, the defeat did allow Dartmouth an opportunity to regroup and turn its focus to the upcoming season. It was time well spent.
In its 2005 College Preview, Baseball America chose the Big Green to win the Ivy League and move on to the NCAA tournament.
In addition to the team honor, the magazine listed five members of the Dartmouth squad as "Players to Watch," four of whom -- first baseman Jeff Speights '05, second baseman Josh Bailey '05, third baseman Tommy Myette '06 and pitcher Josh Faiola '06 -- were named preseason all-conference picks.
Faiola was one of only three pitchers named to the team. Erik Bell '08 was tabbed as the conference's top newcomer, as well.
Despite the extra attention, the Big Green appears as focused as ever, training hard for the upcoming season. The loss of a strong senior class in June gives the younger members of the team big shoes to fill.
"I feel like we've got the right guys who have fully committed themselves this year to help us win," Bailey said. "We expect a lot out of our younger guys and we all know this year we will probably have to pull out a few more close games."
Faiola concurred with Bailey's sentiment.
"This team is a lot younger and more inexperienced than last year's squad," the junior said. "We lost a lot of great ballplayers and leaders off that team, but we have a lot of talent coming back, as well."
The team leaders were excited about Baseball America's recognition of Big Green talent, but they acknowledged that predictions require hard work to become reality.
"Just because we got picked to win the Ivy League doesn't mean that teams are going to just hand us wins," Faiola noted. "Everyone's still 0-0 regardless of preseason rankings."
And while the personal accolades may have been flattering, the recognized players stressed the importance of their individual contributions to the team.
"I just want to go out and help our team win games any way I can," Speights explained. "I'm more concerned about winning games than personal awards."
The Big Green begins its season with a weekend pair of doubleheaders March 5-6 at Lafayette in Easton, Pa.
Once the term ends, the team will head down to Florida for a 10-game spring break trip.