Penn State Baseball Hopes To Follow New ‘Manual of Excellence’ This Season
After a dismal 2017 season that saw Rob Cooper’s ball team finish 18-27, he realized it was time for a culture change.
When reflecting on a poor season, Cooper explained, “You don’t sit there and go, ‘We didn’t do enough of that hitting drill,’ or, ‘We didn’t do enough of that ground ball drill.’ Usually what you say is, ‘We didn’t buy in enough as a group,’ or, ‘We didn’t compete the way that I felt like we could have.'”
Therefore, the Penn State baseball’s head coach decided to place a new emphasis on creating a winning culture ahead of his fifth year in charge of the program — a change that was ultimately player-driven when a group of players met towards the end of last year’s campaign.
“We realized that we needed to change in everything that we do — our day-to-day program, daily routine, everything,” junior pitcher Justin Hagenman said. “We thought of four things that we really thought could change how we do things.”
Those four things were selflessness, accountability, toughness, and competitiveness. They became the basis for a piece of literature now dubbed “The Manual of Excellence.”
Hagenman and a few other upperclassmen presented the manual to the team at the beginning of fall practices, and it’s helped the whole team buy into the program in preparation for the 2018 season.
The 6’3″ right hander also has the honor of throwing the first pitch of the season in Elon, North Carolina as he takes the rubber against the Elon Phoenix this Friday at 4 p.m. He’ll try to improve from a shaky 2017 season in which he posted a 5.49 ERA and a 1-11 record in 14 starts.
The road series should give a good glimpse at the top three of a starting rotation with a lot of depth, according to Cooper.
“There’s not a large distance between [Hagenman] and the guy who would be in the sixth spot [of the rotation].”
The pair of sophomore southpaws Taylor Lehman and Dante Biasi will get the nod on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, to round out the opening series.
Hopefully, the Diamond Lions’ “Manual of Excellence” and deep rotation will guide them to a much more successful 2018 as the season gets underway this weekend.