By Adam Coleman
Coming into baseball season, the Brookhaven Bears were poised to make a run at a national championship.
The Bears were ranked 4th in the Collegiate Baseball News national poll at the start of the season.
This marked the third time in four years that Brookhaven has been in the top 10 in national polling.
Head baseball coach, Brandon Rains, had high hopes for his team this season, “Our expectations of the 2014 season are the same as they are every year,” Coach Rains said. “We expect to win a conference championship, a regional championship and a national championship.”
Rains said there are numerous things they must accomplish in order to reach their goal. “We have to work very hard in practice, have the right attitude and compete as hard as we can. If we do those three things then winning takes care of itself,” Rains said.
Midway through the season, Rains has his team in excel- lent form.
The Bears at 23-10 and 14-4 in conference play are ranked second in the nation as of April 15, which is the highest rank the baseball program has ever achieved.
“It is an honor for us to be thought of that highly,” Rains said. “We have worked very hard all year. If the voters think our work deserves that high of a ranking, then we are very appreciative.
However, we also know that we have a long way to go before we get to where we want to be.” Brookhaven has had extreme individual success as well as team success.
This was highlighted by Pitcher Brandon Lee’s no-hitter against Richland College.
Lee received high praise from Rains and was even selected as national player of the week. Regarding this out- standing performance Rains said. “He really had a good day. He concentrated, tried not to do too much and let his defense work behind him. He has outstanding stuff and when he has command he is as good as they come.”
The Bears are not just winning games, they are also stuffing the stat sheet.
Pitcher Garrett Harris leads the nation in strike outs with 69. Outfielder Davis Szanto has come up big in the clutch. He is ranked first in the conference and second in the country for RBI’s (runs bat- ted in) and shares the lead in long balls with teammate, first baseman, Alexander Anderson.
Their achievements have not gone unnoticed, as fan Eris White said, “I applaud the fact that these guys are staying hungry even with the overwhelming success they’re having. That’s a huge compliment to the coach keeping them hungry and focused on the main task at hand.”
All these midseason accomplishments are great, but in the long run they mean nothing. Rains makes sure they see the big picture “These guys know that we have some tough games ahead of us,” he said. “We stay focused on the small things in front of us. This at bat, this inning, this game, this series. If we stay focused and do our best on the small things it will lead into greater success for the ball club.”
Brookhaven will host one more series against rival North Lake before the conference tournament.
That final series could very well be for possession of first place, so come out and cheer on your bears as they continue their quest for greatness.