Baseball solidifies lineup as MAC play begins

The CMU baseball team had a chance to solidify its lineup and get comfortable at the plate during the first month of the season,

Senior center fielder Billy Anderson has proven to be an effective leadoff hitter, leading the team with 31 hits and 18 runs scored. Meanwhile, players in the middle of the lineup have started to find their roles.

“We think we are pretty solid with Billy as the leadoff guy — he has honed into that and is getting on base,” said coach Steve Jaksa. “We think our approach, hitting-wise, is getting more solid, and we think our guys will continue to improve in terms of numbers.”

Sophomore Nate Theunissen has stepped up for the Chippewas (11-10, 2-1 Mid-American Conference) as his .385 batting average leads the team. He is second on the team with 17 runs batted in and continues to anchor the middle of the lineup.

Anderson is hitting .356 and senior catcher Dale Cornstubble has been consistent, hitting .351 and leading the team with 18 RBIs.

“The biggest thing for guys like me that are my size, I’m just looking to get on base and let the big donkeys knock me in,” Anderson said.

Senior third baseman James Teas has missed four of the team’s past seven games with a minor injury, but has solidified a spot in the middle of the order. He hits .267 and can provide some power when he returns to the lineup.

Sophomore utility player William Arnold has filled in for Teas in some spots. He is hitting .255, while freshman middle infielder Jordan Dean is hitting .226 in his first collegiate baseball season.

“We have a couple of guys that have not been hitting well numbers-wise, but they have had some good at bats in the past weeks,” Jaksa said. “We are hoping some of those hits will start to fall and, hopefully, they will fall during the conference season.”

The Chippewas have multiple players at the bottom of the order who can play multiple positions and step in offensively depending on the situation.

Senior Tyler Kipke, hitting .194, has struggled early, but Jaksa said he is seeing some improvement, and Kipke is starting to swing more fluidly.

Trying to juggle playing outfield and pitcher is junior Matt Faiman, batting .164 and sporting a 6.00 ERA in nine innings pitched. Junior Brendan Emmett and sophomore Sam Russell are hitting better than .300 and can help solidify the back end of the lineup.

Sophomore Scott Phillion, junior Robbie Harman and senior Ricky Clark also provide stability and matchup problems for opposing pitchers.