Michelle Feldman | Sun Staff Photographer

The Red's tough out-of-season schedule will give the team a sufficient challenge to prepare for Ivy League competition, which is still weeks away.

March 17, 2016

Baseball to Focus on Pitching and Defense This Weekend Against Bucknell

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With an impressive series win against Wofford (12-6, 0-0 SoCon) in the books, the Cornell men’s baseball team (3-3, 0-0 Ivy) will hit the road again this weekend with a four game stint at Bucknell (6-9, 0-0 Patriot).

Head coach Dan Pepicelli was pleased with his team’s performance against Wofford but still sees a lot of room for improvement.

“We’re fortunate to come away with a series win last weekend against a really good Wofford team,” said Pepicelli. “Right now we’re just trying to clean up our own game and do the little things better.”

Pepicelli noted that the team has been working on improving its defense. The Red made four errors in three games against Wofford, but fielding struggles are typical early in the season with players still settling into positions and getting a feel for live action hitting.

The ball can come off the bat unpredictably in actual games, no matter how many ground balls players take at practice. Fielding develops with time and experience. Overall, though, fielding should not be too much of a concern this season with several veteran players in the lineup.

Still, Pepicelli singled out defense and quality innings from the starting pitchers as areas of focus against Bucknell.

Pitch count will definitely be a factor for the Red this weekend as well. Pitch count is always monitored in games, but early in the season it is particularly important not to over-extend starting pitchers.

“Pitch count definitely plays a roll this early in the year,” Pepicelli said. “It’s something I discuss quite a bit with [assistant] coach Scott Marsh and just get an idea of what our plan is and what we’re looking to do with each pitcher.”

Cornell’s starting lineup is not set in stone yet. Pepicelli is still getting to know the players, as this is his first season with the Red.

“We have some spots that are pretty strong,” Pepicelli said. “We’re still trying to see what other people are capable of doing and trying to figure out what each player looks like in a competitive environment.”

With the Ivy League season still weeks away, Cornell has time to fine-tune its lineup. The out of conference schedule also allows Cornell to play teams across the country with different skill sets and approaches to the game.

With teams like Wofford and the University of Central Florida on the schedule, it is essential the Red come ready to play each game.

Pepicelli expects the Ivy League to be very strong this year, so it is essential that the Red play quality out-of-conference teams to begin the year.

“It’s our intention to compete for an Ivy League title, and we don’t shy away from that,” Pepicelli said.

Cornell’s performance in out-of-conference games could be an indicator as to how the team will fare in a competitive Ivy League this season.