By Joe Catalfamo staff writer
The St. John Fisher baseball team has made some noise that has turned into momentum for them as of late. Between a seven-game win streak and a feature on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top Ten Plays, the Cardinals have picked up speed at the right time. With the Empire 8 Championship tournament beginning Thursday, May 9, the third-place Cardinals are confident as anyone heading into the second-to-last week in the regular season.
The Cardinals boast an Empire 8 record of 11 – 4 this season, with an overall record of 25 – 10. As they head into the final games before postseason play, senior pitcher Caleb Lee says the entire team is committed to approaching each game with confidence.
“Our goal is to win out,” Lee said. “All the games coming up to close our the season are games we should win on paper. So the main thing is just staying focused and not underestimating anyone. We’re trying to treat every game like it’s the Yankees.”
The sentiment in the locker room is that the sky’s the limit for this year’s squad. With a competitive conference and overall record, the Cardinals could be set up for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament without needing to win the conference and thus earning the automatic bid. As the season winds down, it’s clear that every game is crucial.
“If we win them all, it gives us a ton of momentum going into the E8’s,” Lee explained. “Plus, it gives us a good shot to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tourney if we don’t win the E8 title.”
When asked about the potential of this year’s team, Lee was adamant about the connection between every player in the clubhouse. He mentioned that everyone understands their role and the amount of poise and maturity in each player is part of what makes them great.
“We’ve got a super close team, top to bottom… But no one presses or freaks out when things go wrong,” he said. “It’s just a really laid back and fun vibe. And SC Top 10 is a perfect example, all the guys were getting hyped for Jay Graham and he couldn’t have been more cool and humble about it.”
Junior shortstop Justin Graham made headlines for the Cardinals and put St. John Fisher’s name on the national stage. Graham made a remarkable diving catch against Ithaca College in April, and the play made SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays as the #1 play of the day. Check out the diving catch here.
While the Cardinals have made some high-profile headlines, their composure and leadership throughout the season has them kept them on the right track the entire season. The upperclassmen have played a significant role all season long in guiding the underclassmen players to maximize their potential.
“We’ve got some great young talent… and the upperclassmen do a great job of acclimating them to be the best they can be,” Lee said about the connection between all players in the clubhouse. As St. John Fisher sits behind second-place Stevens Ducks (12-5, 16-18 overall) and first-place Ithaca Bombers (15-2, 25-7 overall), the last stretch of games is essential.