Renegades baseball gears up for Spring season


Kelly Wenzel

Renegades shortstop Victor Gonzalez makes a catch. The team will begin the Spring 2015 season in April.

By Sports & Health Reporter

The Renegades baseball team is thawing from winter break and getting ready for its upcoming Spring 2015 season. 

Corbin Merriman and Toby Pechner, two of the three co-captains of the baseball team, are excited and optimistic about the Renegades’ potential and success this semester. 

Merriman, a junior business & entrepreneurship major, will play  catcher and pitcher this season. He said the team boasts a talented lineup this year.

“[The team] has a lot to be proud of, and I want to show what we are made of,” Merriman said. “Baseball is a game that is set to be fun. Fun is better than winning, but you have a lot more fun when you win.”

Mike Sempek, Renegades president and a junior television major, also said this season’s roster features some of the best talent the team has ever seen and said the Renegades are serious contenders this time around.

“We are excited because we have the best talent that has ever been on this team—or in a long time at the very least,” Sempek said. “[The Renegades] are the underdog, and I think people should come out and try to relate. I think in a lot of ways, everyone in the school has felt like that before.”

Pechner, a junior advertising major and outfielder for the Renegades, said the team has nine scheduled games this season and will kick off the year with a doubleheader on the road against Lewis University, Romeoville, Illinois on Apr. 11 at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. 

In addition, the team will play a series against rival school DePaul University in a two-day doubleheader on Apr. 18 and 19. 

Merriman said the team is working with the Renegades to make the entire weekend a school event in order to get more people into the game and to increase support for the team.

“They are our rivals and hopefully we can play those games close by where people can actually come,” Pechner said. “We want to tailgate and have some fun with the rest of the school so it’s not just us

playing anymore.”

Sempek said increasing school support and fostering awareness is a step in the right direction in acknowledging the college’s

athletic program.

“It is the first time we are doing it, so [I am] curious to see [the turnout],” Sempek said.  

“I think it will be a blast for the people that do come, so if you don’t come you will miss out. Even if you don’t like sports, you still are a Renegade,” Sempek said. “It’s more supporting the school than the team.”  

The captains said they have set high standards this season in the hopes that players can all have fun.

“I would like us to put our foot down in the league and show that we can compete with these teams that are [from] actual athletic schools,” Merriman said. “We are not just here to fool around. We want to make a stand in the league and make [players] excited to play against us.”

Pechner said when he first started three years ago, the team was subpar, but it has come a long way by continuing to compete in games. He said his personal goal this season is to win and possibly sweep

a series. 

“We are a group of guys that are all in the same mindset of just playing,” Merriman said. “They want to be there, they want to play, they want to do their best and they want to have fun. I think, if you get all the ingredients, that you can. Hard work matters more than skill.”

The captains are not necessarily disappointed with Columbia’s athletic program, but both said the school could always do a better job of advertising the program. According to Merriman, it is important to stress to the student body that sports are here and the team wants to make a stand in the league.

“The school could recognize [the athletic program] more,” Pechner said. “Maybe that is with funding or getting us better facilities. I have talked to Vice President of Student Success Mark Kelly a lot about it, and they do what they can as far as gyms, but it is very limited, that time we have in those gyms.” 

The team’s new players include Jameson Swain, outfielder, and Kent Leng, a shortstop. 

Pechner said Leng was the only player last fall to hit one over the fence out in the last three years he has been with the Renegades. 

“Leng’s home run was really cool and Jameson has been awesome and can play any position,” Pechner said. “He’s been playing his whole life.”