Baseball is back and the Meade Mustang baseball team is looking to turn it around after a disappointing 3-18 season in 2016. The team has most of its starters back from last year including seniors Trevor Booth, Kahlil Cunanan, Ian Griffin, Jordan Stewart, junior twins Darren and Derek Donastorg and sophomore southpaw Noah June.
The team is coached by Ed Grap who is entering his fourth year as the head coach. Before getting the head coaching job he was an assistant at Meade under former head coach Dave Lanham. One thing Grap has stressed about since taking over the program is making it a year-round program.
“This past summer we had two summer teams,” Grap said. “We reached out to [Severn Athletic Club] and on three thursdays in August we did clinics just to get more exposure for the school. We’re doing weight training in the winter time and we had two teams [this] fall.”
Grap said because of the year-round activity and having more experience this season that the team should benefit from those factors.
“We’re a much older team this year,” he said. “We only have one sophomore [and the rest] are juniors and seniors.”
Last year’s team had eight seniors on it and was headlined by Luke Boulter who has continued his baseball career at Anne Arundel County Community College. This year’s team has a total of seven with four in the opening day lineup. Although it has experience, Grap said that Meade will miss Boulter this season.
“I don’t know if you ever can replace Luke,” Grap said. “His leadership role was just off the charts. I had so much respect for him.”
However, Grap said that it will take a group effort from this year’s seniors to replace Boulter.
“I think it’s a core it’s not just one guy this year,” he said. “We haven’t had any issues [so far].”
Booth and Cunanan both said that this year’s team feels like a family,
“We’re more closer to the younger guys than [previous teams] were,” Cunanan said.
“We had a team get together the other night where we talked about the season but we also dove into each other’s personal lives to get to know each other better,” Booth added.
Grap hopes that the pitching staff will be lead by June and Booth this season,
“[Booth] is going to have to be the guy to step up and pitch every five days and, after that, it’s going to be by committee,” Grap said. “With the new pitch count rule this year, that’s going to help a little bit for us, [other players] won’t mind giving us an inning or two.”
That new pitching rule, as outlined by the Capital Gazette’s Brian Burden, states that “juniors and seniors are only allowed to throw a maximum of 105 pitches per day, with freshmen and sophomores limited to a maximum of 95 pitches per outing.”
“I think that the pitching staff has definitely gotten better since last year,” Booth said. “I think we’re more mature and we’re ready to get out there and get the job done.”
Grap expects this year’s team to be very disciplined, a message he made sure to get through to his players.
“[The players] are going to be more disciplined than they have been before,” he said. “We’re going to be more uniform.”
Cunanan added that he wants his senior season to be one of the best Meade has had.
“I want the whole [county] to know that we’re not going to back down from nothing,” Cunanan said. “We’re not just an easy team to beat, I want them to think of us as the hardest working team that they ever faced.”
Griffin wants everyone to have the same winning mindset he has had coming into the season.
“If we can get everybody on the same page, have the same mindset, have the same mission and actually want to go out there make plays and want to win than will be good this season,” Griffin said.
Stewart wants to set an example for all of the younger players.
“There are so many [seniors this season] and if we keep working together and show [the underclassmen] how it’s supposed to be done than they can follow our role,” Stewart added.
The program brought on 10 freshman at the Junior Varsity level and Grap is very excited for the future and growth of the program.
“I’m real encouraged about it,” Grap said. “I would like to see what next year’s class is and then I’d like to keep the guys because we lost a couple of guys through transfers [this year].”