Head coach Jordan Bischel brings good chemistry, improved offense to Chippewas
The entire Central Michigan baseball team would tell you its happy to be back in Mount Pleasant.
Senior catcher Blake Cleveland was just happy he could drive to the game himself.
“Not having to get on the bus felt awesome,” Cleveland said with a laugh. “Being able to sleep in your own bed and just play here at Theunissen (Stadium) feels great.”
But the Chippewas didn’t just bring baseball back to their home diamond.
They brought back a different brand of baseball.
In his first season with the Chippewas, head coach Jordan Bischel has his group playing at a high level.
Last season CMU started the nonconference portion of play 5-15-1. This year, the Chippewas head into their first Mid-American Conference game at 3 p.m. on March 29 against Northern Illinois boasting a 16-7 resume.
That’s already more than half of the 29 wins CMU had a season ago.
Junior infielder Zach Heeke credited Bischel’s coaching style, saying he wants them to attack the ball more and has brought a lot of energy to the team.
“(Bischel) wants us to find pitches we can drive and turn into gap shots because gap shots turn into home runs and singles turn into doubles,” Heeke said. “Coach Bischel just knows what he’s talking about, everyone has bought in and is on board.
“When you’re all on board it’s easy to win, it’s easy to play for a guy who loves you and we love him.”
Heeke, who led the team in batting average in 2018 at .346, talked about how much more confident his team is at the dish.
Currently, the numbers back up his words.
CMU is hitting the ball as a team at a .305 clip. Last season, the Chippewas finished at .271. They also have 13 home runs, 59 doubles, nine triples and 171 RBIs through 23 games this season. Last season through 60 games, CMU had 12 homers, 71 doubles, 12 triples and 299 RBIs.
The Chippewas are on pace to blow past their offensive numbers from a season ago.
“As a whole the guys are really buying in to what we are doing and it’s nice to see it pay off with some extra base hits and big performances,” Bischel said. “Hopefully we can keep it rolling.”
In Bischel’s first game at home as the team’s new head coach, the offense wasn’t as typically powerful as it has been this year.
The Chippewas had four bunt base hits, one of which from senior second baseman Jason Sullivan that drove in two runs that turned out to be the game-winning hit in a 6-2 victory over Grand Valley State.
CMU only had one extra base hit but coaxed six walks and added four stolen bases. Bischel was happy to see his team can get the job done at the plate in more than one way.
“We talk a lot as a team about being diverse in ways to score because there is days where you won’t hit it into the gap or out of the park like we saw today,” Bischel said. “We can also do it by putting pressure bunts on and running the bases and we have a guy like Zach Gilles who can run the bases like that, we just need to take advantage and we did today.”
Regardless of how it scores, CMU has shown every reason to believe it has a improved offense in 2019.