BELOIT - The Beloit College Buccaneers baseball team will look to improve on its 1-3 start in the Midwest Conference against St. Norbert Saturday in De Pere.
The Bucs are in need of picking up wins in conference play in order to secure a top two spot in the North Division, which means a place in the MWC tournament.
Two weekends ago the Bucs dropped three out of four games against Ripon to open MWC play. They followed that up last Saturday by being swept in a home doubleheader against Cornell. After the five consecutive loses Beloit now sits at 9-12 overall.
Beloit will look to copy the format that got them in to the MWC tournament and championship game two seasons ago. That deep run also started with a 1-3 start in MWC play, but the Bucs turned it around winning 10 out of their last 14 MWC games.
"Their are some similarities to that team," head coach Dave DeGeorge said. "We had a lot of people who were playing with the weight of the world on their shoulders. We started to talk about playing with joy, and a sense of gratitude that we have this real opportunity to play college baseball at a great school like this and stop worrying about stuff."
Senior infielder Ethan Conley was a part of that run in 2017 when he took over at second base midway through the year. Conley this season is a key cog for the Bucs leading the team with 20 RBIs and six doubles while batting .263.
"Just cause we are in a bad spot right now doesn't mean we can turn this thing around," Conley said. "I need to be a positive influence through my play and really by picking guys up. I need to go back to what my personality on the field is and that will help these younger guys out more."
DeGeorge says Conley along with Beloit's all-time leader in batting average, senior Jalen Davis, will have to lead by example in order for BC to kick it in gear.
"Everyone always wants to talk about the vocal leader and things like that and it does help. It's definitely a positive," DeGeorge said. "What you really need is people to make plays in the game. What we need out of Davis and Conley is to drive in runs. They have done a good job,but we need them to step up from where they've been and go to an even higher level."
Due to Easter Sunday, Beloit's home double-header against St. Norbert will be played Monday giving the Bucs a day of rest in between the two sets of games. The rest day gives DeGeorge and the Bucs pitching staff a little breathing room and leaves the possibility that Monday's starters could see some light action Saturday.
"We have Jacob Sligar (sophomore) back in the mix pitching who had been out for awhile and he had been very effective this year when he was available so that will help," DeGeorge said. "We have to address our relief pitching, as strong as it looked in Florida, it has looked horrible since we got back."
DeGeorge says the Bucs have to get back to what works by pitchers pounding the strike zone, playing great defense and controlling the bases.
"When we are throwing strikes and keeping that ball down we are a force in the field," he said. "Offensively we need to have that discipline to battle out of slumps and not let that negativity get to us. That will definitely be one of the keys for this weekend."