• Zach Sturgill

Comets hit the baseball diamond with new coach, new mission

Olivet College baseball is stepping into the batter’s box, looking to hit a home run in the 2017 season.

The hiring of new coach Andrew Merchant in the summer of 2016 came after a dismal spring record last year. Merchant fills the coaching spot at Olivet, after three seasons at Lansing Community College. His time at LCC helped the team break records in many statistical categories. Olivet College Athletic Director Ryan Shockey has expectations for Merchant coaching the Comets.

“Andy will be a great addition to our staff and bring a new look to our baseball program,” said Shockey. “His knowledge and passion for the game will make him a great fit for Olivet College.”

Merchant has a focus for the players in this upcoming season. “The main goal is to be intentional with everything we do and to get better every day. Anytime we are on the field or in the dugout, we want to do everything a specific way because we believe that is the best way to do it, not because it’s the easiest way or the way it’s always been done,” said Merchant.

The baseball team at Olivet has not finished in the top half of the MIAA

years. The mission for coach Merchant is to bring some change and success to this program. He said, “From a results point of view, anytime you start a season, you are eyeing a postseason spot. From that perspective, we are working to be a top half team in the conference, which would earn us a postseason bid.”

Senior catcher Andrew Dayfield is “excited to see what we can do as a team this year. If we stick to what we have been working on, we can be successful.” Dayfield also added that “the thing we are looking to accomplish as a team is to create a winning culture; in a few years, Olivet baseball can be turned into a winning tradition.”

Olivet’s first matchup of the season will come against Hanover (Indiana). The Comets travel there to play March 4 through March 5. The Comets will later drive down to Earlham (Indiana) to play on Wednesday, March 8.

Then spring break arrives, where the baseball team will head much farther south to central Florida. Olivet is participating in the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational, which spans from March 11 to March 17. When asked about the spring break trip, Merchant said, “We’re looking to build confidence and get the guys used to winning again.

We need to get some baseball under our belts and get the taste of last season out of our mouths. We’ll get some good weather and plenty of time to bond as a team.”

Conference baseball starts up the weekend after the trip to Florida, with the Comets playing at Adrian on March 25, and hosting the Bulldogs on March 26. First pitch of the double-header at the Cutler Athletic Complex will be thrown at 1 p.m.

Olivet will kick off the month of April when they host the Trine Thunder on April 1. They then travel down to play Trine the next day. The same format of games will be played the next weekend, on March 8 and 9, with the comets playing the Hope Flying Dutchmen, the Kalamazoo Hornets, and finally, the Calvin Knights. For all dates and times, check into olivetcomets.com.For the final weekend of Olivet’s regular season, Merchant will get to play against his alma mater, the Alma Scots. Graduating from Alma College in 2000, Merchant played baseball there as a pitcher.

“Some of the coaches are the same guys I played against 20 years ago,” said Merchant. Looking at the complete MIAA schedule, Merchant also said, “I am very excited to start a new era of Comets baseball and to leave our mark on the MIAA.”For the full schedule, roster, and news, go to olivetcomets.com.

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