Mercyhurst is a Division II athletic school in nearly every sport. Even though it is not considered a big-name school, the Mercyhurst baseball team still plays at a big-time level.
Senior Kevin McCall spent two years playing for the University of Buffalo before transferring to Mercyhurst. He says the differences between the two are smaller than one might think when jumping down a division.
“The talent isn’t much different. There is more traveling here and more in-conference games, but overall the skill level is similar,” McCall says.
Traditionally in a Division I school, teams travel and stay a whole weekend away for a three-game series. But in the DII Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference’s schedule, teams have home and home series. Teams will travel away for two games, then play that same team at home the following day.
This type of travel can have a significant impact on a player. So far, this hasn’t posed too much of a problem for McCall and the Lakers.
In his second and final season with the Lakers, McCall has picked up where he left off last season. He has started all 20 games and continues to play at a high level. To date, he is hitting .368 and is second on the team in hits and doubles and RBIs.
McCall also ranks in the top five on the team in almost every offensive category.
Last season, McCall played through nagging injuries but still had a solid year. Now, he hopes to stay healthy and have an even better senior year.
“Baseball is a lot of wear and tear I just need to stay fit,” McCall says. “Going through the routine helps to produce.”
McCall’s natural position is middle infield, but this season he has played everywhere. He has started a majority of this season at third base, with occasional starts at second base and in the outfield. This jack-of-all-trades role is one that McCall enjoys.
Any team would love to have a player who hits more than .300 and can play just about every position.
All these positions are different in their own ways. Third base is called the “hot corner” because there is only a limited amount of time to react before the ball reaches you.
“It’s just practice. Repetition is the father of learning,” he says.
McCall and Mercyhurst are off to an excellent start, holding a 15-5 overall record and are coming off two weekend splits against Gannon University.
But because of an inherit baseball code of superstition, McCall was reluctant to comment on how high the ceiling is for Mercyhurst. Baseball players are considered the most superstitious of athletes, having the exact same routine before a game or when they are at the plate.
“I listen to the same soundtrack and go through the same motions before every game,” he says.
Perhaps all the repetition will lead to a PSAC title this season for the Lakers. They take on Clarion University in another home and home weekend. Saturday’s home games start at 1 p.m.