Standing in the #3 spot in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association DII baseball poll, Point Loma Nazarene University’s baseball team enters their 14th week of games with hopes of winning the 2022 PacWest Conference. To do so, PLNU (39-7) must have a better season than Azusa Pacific University (32-14), by defeating Fresno Pacific University on May 10 and 11.
The team is en route to their strongest season since 2009 (45-13).
With a crack of a bat and smile, second-year physics major and infield Seth Ryberg reflects on the team’s standout season. Ryberg has a .302 batting average with one homerun and played a season with no errors.
Ryberg: “Winning has become the standard for Point Loma Baseball. We expect each other to show up every day and work hard. We hold each other accountable to focus and perform to the best of our ability which makes for a competitive environment. Everything we do at practice, in the weight room, and in the classroom prepares us to win baseball games. Erik Pederson, our strength coach, has worked overtime to ensure we are stronger, bigger, and faster than any other team in the conference.
From my three years on the baseball team, this is the tightest knit team I have ever been part of. We root for each other to succeed no matter who is playing; we all want each other to do well and that is rare for a team of 30 guys. The depth in our roster is the best in the country. Our coach is able to play many different players in various situations throughout the game to give us the best chance of winning. Other teams look at our success and think we just get lucky, but no one sees how hard we work behind the scenes.
A major difference between this year’s team and past teams is our attention to the small details that decide baseball games. We catch the baseball, sacrifice ourselves for runs, and play fundamental baseball in tight games. One of our team values is mudita, which means celebrating our team and teammates success over our own. Celebrating each other keeps us from focusing on our own failures – and in a game where you fail 70% of the time, this is really important.
Our head coach, Justin James, has done an excellent job in keeping our focus on one pitch at a time. It can be easy to start thinking about the post season when we still have games to win in the regular season. An emphasis for this year’s team is the mental game. We visualize success, regulate our breathing and control our self-talk and body language better than anyone else.
This has really helped our players from being too emotional or sped up in bit time situations.
At the end of the day, we make sure we are having fun playing the game we love because that’s what it’s all about. I am excited to see how this team navigates the post season knowing we have all the tools to go as far as we want. We haven’t even played our best baseball yet, which is scary. This year’s team has redefined the standard for Point Loma athletics and we are very grateful for all the support as we continue on.”
Season updates can be found on the team’s website, https://plnusealions.com/sports/baseball/schedule.
By: Seth Ryberg and Katie Morris