As the Harvard baseball team’s season draws nearer to a close with conference play ending this weekend, three sophomore players stand out this year.
Sophomores Brandon Kregel, Tanner Anderson, and Mike Martin have stepped up this season, excelling both offensively and defensively for the Crimson.
“When they’re in the lineup and when they come up [to bat], you expect them to come through every time, unfortunately, because they’ve done it so many times now,” co-captain Robert Wineski said. “They’re definitely a spark to our offense. They’ve worked really hard to prove their game, and I think it’s really paying off right now in the season.”
Kregel leads the offense with 43 hits and 18 runs batted in and has hit a total of 11 doubles this season. Remarkably, the sophomore is still in the process of fully overcoming injuries from the previous year.
“I couldn’t play at all last year,” Kregel said. “So just working to get back my swing has been a huge part of this year. I’m still, believe it or not, working on it and trying to trust myself that I can swing through the ball and not have to worry about re-breaking [my wrist] or anything.”
In addition to being a key hitter, Kregel also plays right outfield for Harvard.
“[Brandon] is not a selfish player,” Wineski said. “He’s a very team-oriented guy, and he’ll do anything he can to help the team out…he’s rocking right field, haven’t had to move him all year.”
Martin also powers the Crimson offense with 28 hits, eight doubles, and two triples. Defensively, the sophomore has tallied 46 assists and 48 putouts.
“Mike is obviously a very talented player all around,” Wineski said. “He’s really fast, got a lot of pop, hits per average…he can lay a bunt down and beat it out. He can steal a base. He’s really just a dynamic player. Mike’s a great shortstop, great range, good arm.”
Somehow, Martin is producing hits while making the transition from outfielder to shortstop.
“It’s been really interesting to see [Mike] transform from a centerfielder to a shortstop,” Kregel said. “The entire season he’s been battling a groin injury, but just seeing him out there working as hard as he can just really shows how much of an athlete he is.”
The third key contributor, Anderson, is a versatile player. He has started as pitcher in five games this season in addition to being a key defensive player at second base.
“We’ve taken every opportunity and advantage of any kind to get down there, whether it be hitting in the cages, picking groundballs, picking fly balls, stuff like that,” Anderson said. “We’ve been able to practice a lot more as well. Our practices themselves are a lot more intense. I’d say that, overall, has just led to an increase in pretty much everyone’s abilities in previous years.”
Anderson has clinched 61 putouts and 62 assists. Anderson also has a sum of 30 hits, seven doubles, and 15 runs batted in.
“Coach Calcaterra, who is the assistant coach as well as coach Decker, the head coach, are new this year, and they both really push for a huge work ethic,” Anderson said. “Their main thing is getting better every day, and it doesn’t matter if we win or lose, we just can’t get out-hustled by the other team, and I think that’s really important. Because not only does it allow us to gain momentum late in games, but it just looks better, it makes us feel better as players.”
When asked who influenced his play this season, Kregel was also quick to name his coaches.
“I can tell you that he’s been there working with me this entire season,” Kregel said. “I feel like he really wants me to succeed, and that’s good knowing that someone’s there behind me.... Coach Brown is our assistant coach. He’s a volunteer coach. I had a pretty long talk with him at the beginning of the season, and he pretty much inspired me just to be the best person I can on and off the field, which has really helped me.”
The three sophomores are leaders offensively and in the field, securing impressive stats at bat and in each of their respective positions.
“Starting with this year, they’ve really worked hard,” Wineski said. “They’ve realized after all the injuries and other things that have plagued our team this year that we’re down to a small number…so you have to step up.”
—Staff writer Kelley Guinn McArtor can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @CrimsonKGM.