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Previewing Fall Baseball with Seattle’s Donny Harrel

DonnyHarrelSeattleU Seattle University Media Relations recently sat down with head coach Donny Harrel to preview the Fall Baseball season. Last season was Seattle’s first season in Division 1 baseball and they went a disappointing 11-39. The star of the team was Bryndon Ecklund who led the team with a .352 batting average. You can check out the full interview from Seattle Media Relations below.

Q: How do you feel going into this fall compared to last year?

A: We are a lot more organized and ready for the start of fall practice. Last year we did not have anyone in the system that had gone through what we expect here with our program. Being able to return 21 student-athletes from last year’s team will allow for us to get right into the baseball aspect of fall practice.

Q: In your first Division I baseball season in 30 years here at SU, how do you feel the club truly did after going 11-39 last spring?

A: We did not play up to our personal expectations. We left a lot of wins on the field that we should have had if we were better in a few more areas. Losing 21 games by 4 runs or less makes you really evaluate the program and personnel to see how some of those games could have worked more in our favor. For a first year program, we competed well, but for what we expect here at SU, we need to get better.

Q: You talk about “being better in a few more areas” – can you elaborate on how those areas were taken care of this offseason?

A: We did not do well last year in the middle of our batting order driving in runs. Our left-handed pitching did not do a good job with getting left-handed hitters out and the bridge in the bullpen did not do a good job of keeping us in ball games. We felt we took care of some of these issues with our recruiting class. We signed Cam Christian and Cory Mack to help us out as left-handed pitchers. We lost a major sign late in the summer who was a left-handed pitcher that we had slated as our Saturday starter. We will need our returning left-handed pitchers to step up and be better than they were last year to help fill the void that was just recently created. Matt Comer and Jace Sloan are expected to come right in and help protect Josh Kalalau in the middle of the order and drive in runs. Getting Ryan Somers back from his medical redshirt last year will also help boost the offense. The bridge in the bullpen will be taken care of by just being a year older. Seafth Howe comes in and should compete for one of our starting spots in the rotation, so that will bring another experienced arm back into the bullpen to help with the problems we faced last season. Many of our returners also had good summers to build on for the future.

Q: Speaking of summer baseball – who are some of the guys who shined for their summer baseball programs?

A: Eric Yardley had a terrific summer in Moses Lake. We needed him to go over there and pitch a bunch of innings to be a stronger contributor out of our bullpen. His teammate over there, Nate Roberts, also fared well and was a second team all-division player. Bryan Dalton threw up good numbers out of the bullpen in California and seemed to polish up his off-speed stuff to help compliment his fastball. Bryndon Ecklund continued to be an offensive threat and Seafth Howe just kept on winning on the mound. A lot of our other kids did a nice job as well, but those are just a few that their coaches called us about who had notable success.

Q: Give us a sort of “plan of attack” for this important fall season.

A: We will go right into practice on September 8th and practice every day until school starts. We plan on doing a lot more ‘hands on’ coaching early in the fall before we begin scrimmaging. We will be taking a team camping trip over to Bremerton and just doing a little bonding together as an organization. We will try to peak our workouts toward the middle of October when our Scarlet and Black World Series begins. With 13 new players in the program trying to make the team, we will rely heavily on our newly found experience to get those kids up to speed as quickly as possible so we can truly start to compete for playing time.

Q: What are your goals for what you will get out of this fall?

A: More consistent in what we do! We showed signs of being a very good baseball team last spring, but we were inconsistent. We did things in games that I had never seen before and we hope to eliminate our faults to as few as possible. We will get stronger, closer and better as a team and learn what “relentless” truly means as we talk about our program. We hope to develop a closeness than cannot be broken by the simple failures of sport. We have tremendous young men in our program. We just need to make them all ballplayers now.