Baseball to count on leadership, teamwork for upcoming season

After an early end to the 2011 season, the Horned Frog baseball team planned to learn from its mistakes and bounce back in its last season in the Mountain West Conference.

Senior outfielder Brance Rivera said he learned some important lessons from last season and that he expected the team to put that mental growth on display.

“One of the main things [I learned] is just how important sticking together as a team is and doing all the little things right so that when the game time comes, it just happens,” he said.

Head coach Jim Schlossnagle said baseball players learn something after every season and that his message to the team has been simple.

“The past never equals the future in baseball,” he said. “It’s never about the perceived best team. It’s about the team that plays the best. We didn’t play our best when it meant the most, and that’s why our season ended before we wanted it to.”

One of the keys to the Frogs’ success this season will be leadership, and Schlossnagle said he expected multiple players to take charge.

“We have a host of older guys who’ve been through the ringer,” he said. “Josh Elander, our catcher, probably heads that up at the highest level, but people lead in different ways. Jason Coats and Brance Rivera and Jantzen Witte — those guys are great leaders. They’re not necessarily the most vocal guys, but they’re tremendous examples of how we want to play.”

The team has high expectations for every season, but they try not set result-oriented goals, Schlossnagle said.

“We all want to win the national championship and be the last team standing in Omaha, but there is a lot that goes into it between now and then,” he said.