BASEBALL: 'Impressive' season ends early with loss in MAC tournament
With two losses in the Mid-American Conference Tournament last week, the Ball State baseball team’s season has come to an end.
After posting a 22-4 MAC regular season record, the Cardinals ran away with the conference’s No. 1 seed to enter postseason play as the favorite to win the tournament.
The goals of reaching the 2014 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament came up short once the team lost to Kent State and Western Michigan in the team’s second and third MAC Tournament games.
Even though Ball State did not win, head coach Rich Maloney still views his team’s season as one that was both successful and impressive.
“Winning the MAC championship in the regular season is a true testament to the guys,” Maloney said. “If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that we’d have been 22-4, I would have said I don’t know about that. ... You’ve got to be thankful, count it a blessing. And certainly, I am really happy for all of our guys in that accomplishment.”
In addition to winning the conference’s regular season championship, four Cardinals earned MAC Specialty Awards, while six players were named to All-MAC teams.
MAC Player of the Year Sean Godfrey had one of the strongest seasons at the plate in D-I baseball history. The senior outfielder is one of only three players since 2011 to have nine home runs, 20 doubles, 20 stolen bases and 50 RBIs in a single season.
The two other players to accomplish this feat, George Springer and Chris Burke, were drafted by the Houston Astros and the San Diego Padres in the 2011 and 2012 MLB drafts respectively.
Godfrey is currently in Muncie to prepare himself for the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft and has workouts with the Cincinnati Reds and the Detroit Tigers scheduled for this weekend.
“It’s an exciting time right now,” he said. “[Playing professional baseball] is what I’ve been dreaming of my whole life, and it’s getting pretty close to that time.”
In addition to losing Godfrey, the Cardinals will see eight other seniors graduate, including ace T.J. Weir, who finished the season tied for eighth in the country with 117 strikeouts.
Despite the exodus of talent, Maloney said he feels good about the group of players he has returning, with six underclassmen registering more than 100 at-bats during the 2014 season.
“We had a great combination of veterans and young players this year,” Maloney said. “Knowing that you have several accomplished players with great experience that have been very successful as freshmen and sophomores, the future is really bright for our program.”