The Randolph-Macon Yellow Jacket baseball team finished their 2014 season last week with a 24-15 overall record and a 14-6 record in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC).
The team continued their success this year with the highest overall winning percentage since 1987 and their best finish (third) in the ODAC since 1997. For the fourth consecutive season, the Jackets were one of the last three teams in the conference tournament and won the tournament in 2011 and 2013.
The ODAC is known for competitive baseball, and several teams in the conference are ranked nationally.
“We have one of the top 15 schedules in the country,” sophomore Austin Bain said.
This year’s ODAC tournament was hosted by Lynchburg College in the minor league Lynchburg Hillcats Stadium with R-MC President Bob Lindgren in attendance.
R-MC first faced Lynchburg College, who had swept the Jackets in regular season play. Lynchburg beat the Jackets 3-1 in 11 innings, sending R-MC to the losers’ bracket.
R-MC went into the game expecting to win.
“We beat ourselves,” Bain said. “The loss was a complete shocker.”
Coming off a loss, the Yellow Jackets faced rival Hampden-Sydney in the second game of the tournament. The Jackets won 4-3 in 10 innings and ended Sydney’s season.
“Sydney was the most emotional game of them all,” Bain said. “If we didn’t win, we were going home.”
The Jackets were able to advance to the next round and face Lynchburg once again.
After several losses to Lynchburg over the course of the season, the Jackets were ready for a win,and won with an unusually high final score of 18-10 despite many errors. The Jackets racked up over 20 hits throughout the game, bringing them to face in-season rivals and ODAC powerhouse Bridgewater College.
“We all came together after losing to Lynchburg,” Bain said. “No team in the ODAC intimidates us because we are the most prepared team out there.”
The Yellow Jackets lost 5-2 to Bridgewater in their final game of the tournament.
“We shot ourselves in the foot and made mental mistakes,” senior Matt Fischgrund said. “They didn’t dominate us.”
“We couldn’t put it together to reach our goal,” senior Jamie Hendrick said.
Only two senior players, Matt Fischgrund and Jamie Hendrick, are graduating this year. The team typically has at least four seniors, which, according to Hendrick, has changed the way the team relies on its upperclassmen.
“The foundation Matt and I have laid is one to grab onto and move forward with,” Hendrick said.
Head coach Ray Hedrick agreed with this sentiment.
“We have a recruiting class coming in that is eager to help our program get to the ‘next level’,” Hedrick said.
“While we didn’t win the ODAC tournament, I believe we have had a better overall season.”
The team is now waiting on an at-large bid from the NCAA Division III tournament, a chance that Bain and Fischgrund seem to think is likely.
“We are practicing tomorrow,” Bain said. “We’re ready.”
-May McNeil ’16, Staff Writer