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RedHawks baseball is on the rise

Ryland Zaborowski has put up seven home runs for the RedHawks, the second-most on the team
Ryland Zaborowski has put up seven home runs for the RedHawks, the second-most on the team

The Miami University RedHawks baseball season has been characterized by many ups and downs. After finishing last season 21-35 and missing the Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament, the RedHawks looked to have a fresh start this year with new head coach Brian Smiley.

The RedHawks started off the season against the University of South Carolina Gamecocks with three straight losses. Smiley noted that his expectations coming into this season didn’t rely as much on the record as it did on the team’s overall improvement as the year progressed. 

“We didn't know what to expect in terms of wins and losses,” Smiley said. “My expectations were [that we] needed to finish far better than [we] started.”

In the first half of the season, the RedHawks suffered some devastating losses, including a 17-16 extra-innings defeat to the Bowling Green State University Falcons. However, they have been able to pick up some steam, including a dominant 15-6 win over the Central Michigan University Chippewas. 

This rebound has propelled the RedHawks to a 19-19 record, which is just what Smiley was aiming for this season. 

“This team was kind of built for the second half of the year based on the lack of experience that we had,” Smiley said. “And we knew that we were going to be very up and down at the beginning of the year, which has held true to how the first half of the year has gone.”

Although Miami has made significant progress this season, Smiley said they aren't done yet. His overall goal is to win championships so they need to keep working to be the best they can. 

As they have made their way through the season, the players have grown closer and learned about each other. Team chemistry has been a trend with the RedHawks this year. On and off the diamond, they have become a very tight knit group. 

Peyton Olejnik, a junior transfer pitcher from Oklahoma University, notes that the team chemistry has been a huge advantage for the RedHawks.  

“I feel like this is the closest team that I've ever been on,” Olejnik said. “As a whole, we just get along. There's not a single guy left out. We always go to work and go to battle for each other. I feel really comfortable with the guys behind me because they always had my back since day one.”

Dillion Baker, a junior in his second season at Miami, has been a pillar for the team, being one of the few who has seen the ‘before and after’ of this team. For him, the coach turnover established a brotherhood that the team hadn't seen before. 

“It's my second year here at Miami and there's been a major change in the team chemistry last year,” Baker said. “The guys get along. I feel like everybody has everybody's back. And I think the coaches did a great job of kind of making us go through things in the fall as a group and having to pick each other up rather than everybody just being on their own and working separately.”

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Baker played a vital role in leading the team into the new management for the new players, including Olejnik. 

“For me, one guy that really sticks out to me on the position side is Dillon Baker,” Olejnik said. “Just like the work ethic and the knowledge for the game shows really well, and I know a lot of the younger guys always go up to him and ask him questions. He always has an answer … [It] is gonna make our team better as a whole on the pitching staff.”

The RedHawks next face the Eastern Michigan University Eagles on April 26 in Oxford. Sitting at sixth in the conference, they need to overcome the No. 4 University of Toledo Rockets and the No. 5 Kent State University Golden Flashes to contend for the MAC tournament next month.

Miami is equipped with the tools for success this season, and it will be exciting to see the rest of the season unfold in May.