For the last three seasons, the Braves Baseball team has managed to come up just short of advancing to the NJCAA National Tournament, but this year’s team isn’t concerned with the past. The Braves are confident they can compete for a National title, and they understand the importance of having a successful fall season.
The fall season consist of the Braves playing in several exhibition games, including games against Western Illinois and St. Ambrose. The team currently has four games left before they finish the fall season competing in the Black and Gold World Series.
Starting right hand pitcher, Joey Fredrickson, who has reached as high as 89 mph on his fastball this fall, is confident in the team’s ability to compete for a National Title. Fredrickson admits the team needs to improve on their batting, but overall he’s been impressed with the team’s progress so far.
As a captain, Fredrickson embraces the opportunity to show the first year players the standards Coach Chavera and the program have set in place.
“As a captain, I want to make sure every incoming freshman knows the expectations of acting first class on and off the field,” Fredrickson said.
The program lost 11 sophomore players from last season, but the Braves will have eight returning sophomores and three sophomore transfers. Having 11 players with prior college baseball experience should benefit the Braves this upcoming spring, but just being a sophomore doesn’t get you in the starting line up on this team.
The fall season is all about competition for the Braves, and from day one Coach Chavera and his staff made it clear to the team that nothing is guaranteed.
“The players that are returning are pretty good, and they were starters last year for a reason, but they know in this business my job is to put the best product on the field every day,” Coach Chavera said.
Whether a player is on a full tuition scholarship or is a walk on, each player is expected to compete against one another. Coach Chavera’s goal is to create an environment where the players are competing every day to prepare them to compete against their opponents.
To establish competition on a consistent basis, the coaching staff has come up with a rather unique way for the players to embrace the competition.
Every day at practice, the Braves have some form of competition against one another. The team is split up into two groups: the Sauk Tribe and the Fox Tribe, which were two tribes led by Chief Blackhawk. The two teams can earn points by making good plays at practice or during a game, and they can also lose points for things such as showing up late to practice. The two teams can also earn points by winning competitions such as relay races and kick, pass, punt competitions. Every two weeks the points are added up and the tribe that has the least amount of points are assigned to clean up duty on the field or extra conditioning.
The coaching staff doesn’t want any player becoming complacent and content with their role on the team. They want the players to be pushed, whether it’s by the coaching staff or a teammate to ensure each player competes every day.
Every year the Braves’ goal is to bring a National Title to Black Hawk, but winning is not Coach Chavera’s number one priority. Coach Chavera believes the most important aspect of his job is helping his players develop enough to play for a four year school. The coaching staff takes pride in developing their players to be able to move on to the next level, and last year the program had seven players who were signed by Division I schools.
With the spring season still months away, it’s impossible to speculate how the season will go for the Braves, but make no mistake – this team will be competing every step of the way.
The entire fall and spring schedules, as well as a complete roster, can be found at BHC.edu.