Record-Setting Season for Baseball Team | Thomas Nelson Community College

Record-Setting Season for Baseball Team

May 26, 2022
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Will Michalowicz, a first-team all-region selection, played in 34 games, hitting .307 with one home run and 13 runs batted in.

The Thomas Nelson baseball team, which finished the season in early May, posted the most wins in school history since joining the National Junior College Athletic Association. With the team led mostly by freshmen, that record might not last long.

“I expect us to take another big step forward next year,” said coach Todd Barker, who just finished his third year at Thomas Nelson.

The Gators ended the season 20-27 overall, including a 5-13 record in the New South Athletic Conference. They went 0-2 in the conference tournament, losing to the top two seeds. Despite the season not ending the way he had hoped, Barker was pleased overall.

“We reached a few of the goals I did have for us,” he said.

A few early comeback wins were big, letting the Gators build momentum as they split their first 20 games. They opened conference season by beating Rockingham twice.

“Winning the first two games of conference play I think gave us a lot of confidence and let us know we were on the right track,” Barker said.

Freshman infielder Will Michalowicz, the team’s lone first-team all-region selection, admitted the Gators looked rough when he showed up for his first practice in the fall.

“We ended up having a pretty solid team,” he said. “Definitely exceeded my expectations.”

He credited some of that to the team being resilient.

“After losing games, we just had to stay in there and realize it’s part of baseball,” he said. “You get ready for the next game.”

Being so young, the Gators struggled with consistency, said Barker.

“Either we pitched really well and didn’t seem to put some hits together, or the opposite. We were able to hit the ball well, but pitching let us down,” the coach said.

Since it was the first college season for most of the players, adjusting to more games from a longer season was difficult. High school seasons typically are 15-20 games.

“For a lot of those guys, it was a grind, physically demanding,” Barker said. “I think a lot of our issues were young guys experiencing this for the first time and learning what it takes to stay healthy and recover after a long weekend, and get ready for the next time around.”

That youth is what has Barker and Michalowicz excited about next year.

“We’re bringing back almost our entire team,” Barker said.

Add to that mix another strong recruiting class, Barker already has 15 commitments, will help the Gators fill holes and accumulate depth.

“We’ll finally have some guys who do have some experience that they’ll be able to pull from after this year,” Barker said.

Michalowicz said the older players on this year’s team did a great job being leaders and showing the freshmen what it takes to play college baseball.

“Now that we have that under our belt, we will be even more prepared for next year,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting a lot of wins.”

Barker can’t wait.

“The future is brighter than what’s it’s been, and it’s going to keep getting better,” he said.

A number of players did pick up all-region awards:

]First-team Will Michalowicz (infielder),

Second-team: Tyler Butler (infielder); Zach Barco (outfielder); Justin Johnson (outfielder); Pablo Veras (pitcher).

All-defensive team: Michael Adams (outfielder).