Senior Keegan Stevens looks forward to playing alongside his brother in his final season at Manchester.
Photo provided by MU Athletics

Men’s Baseball Team Goes to Bat with High Hopes for Season

Jarred Hubbard

Manchester’s men’s baseball team opened their first season this Friday against Franklin College. The Spartans are looking for a fresh start in the program, having not played for close to a year due to Covid-19 restrictions. They have worked hard during their long and drawn-out off-season and have been getting better each day.

“Our expectations are high for this team, we were voted eighth in our conference, we’re pretty focused on proving those who didn’t vote for us wrong,” said Aidan Stevens.

He and his brother Keegan are from Rensselaer, Indiana. Aidan is a sophomore and Keegan is a senior. Aidan is an outfielder and Keegan is a pitcher. “Our main goal for this year is to get better every day and win the conference title and to have fun while doing it,” Aidan said.

The Spartans also look to grow from their experiences and they are making room for error, but they’re also making room for some trophies as well. “We are using this year not just as a year to get better, because we get better every day from the time we wake up until we go to bed, but we want to win conference,” Aidan said. The team knows they are going to be underdogs, but they use this as motivation to continue to work hard, not just for baseball but in life. “We all have the same things in common with being told we can’t accomplish something; we want to silence all of the naysayers and build a winning program here at MU,” Aidan said.

The Spartans have a strong veterans’ presence with eight seniors returning this season for one last dance that got cut short. “I think we have the talent combined with good upperclassmen leadership to have an exceptionally good team this year,” Aidan said. “We have a large group of young players (including myself) who have a chance to make an impact on the team’s success this year.”

Even though the team is ready to compete, they realize that they don’t take any moment on the baseball field for granted; they understand that it is a privilege. Aidan said: “We are thankful to just have the opportunity to play the game of baseball, a game that we have been playing and training for our whole lives, it’s just a blessing to play after not playing for an entire year.”

Keegan added: “I am definitely happy to be here, and I am blessed to be playing this game alongside my brother, even though this is my last ride I just want to be able to help our team win and establish a good winning foundation for the future so they can go out and win a conference title and then win a national championship.”

Coach Rick Espeset has been at MU for 25 years and he has been the coach his entire duration, he has been remarkably successful. Espeset is MU’s leader in all-time wins (590 wins); he has won conference coach of the year six times. His leadership and guidance have been tested time after and he has risen to the occasion.

“Coach is a genius, and he really knows the game and he knows how to win,” Keegan said. “I am glad to be able to be coached by someone like him; he has coached and been around the best of them and he has guys that have even went pro that have played for him.”

Keegan and Aidan both agreed that Coach Espeset is an excellent coach, and he deserves more credit for having a team here that has been so good for so long. “I refer to him like Bill Belichick (head coach of the New England Patriots) of D3 baseball,” Keegan said. “I say that because he has a great system here and it has been working for him and his players for 20+ years and he’s a winner.”