The Thomas College Terriers had a forgettable 2009 baseball season.
By his own admission, coach Greg King said it was one of his worst coaching experiences.
The Terriers finished 8-26 but it was the casual attitude of the players that rankled King.
King, now in his 14th season, won’t have to endure another season like that, he said.
Despite dropping three of four in their North Atlantic Conference openers against Husson University, King and his players have a bright outlook for this spring.
They went 5-7 on a trip to Arizona before returning to face defending NAC champ Husson.
“We had a lot of guys who weren’t [dedicated] last year and some of them were our leaders,” said Thomas junior catcher-designated hitter Mike Busa. “This year, everybody wants to compete and everybody wants to win.”
“This team is completely different than last year’s,” agreed sophomore pitcher Chris Farrar, who picked up the win over Husson. “We’ve got real good leaders this year.”
The captains are Busa, senior second baseman Tim Costa, senior center fielder Tom Desjardins from Fort Kent and pitcher Payton Austin from Lisbon.
“Everyone has a new attitude. Everyone wants to play, everyone wants to win. The bench is always [involved] in it. It’s just a lot more fun than last year,” said junior first baseman Josh Nickerson from Stockton Springs.
King feels his team’s strengths are its hitting and defense.
“Our hitting will carry us. And our defense is outstanding,” said King. “If our pitchers keep us in games, we should be all right.”
Despite losing their top two hitters from a year ago in Dana Leland (.366) and Jared Fieldsend (.360), they still returned three regulars who hit over .300 a year ago in Nickerson (.325), Costa (.313) and Desjardins (.309).
Speedy sophomore right fielder Danny Burke led the team in stolen bases a year ago with five and is taking on a more prominent role in the lead-off spot this season.
Burke, Costa, Desjardins, Busa and Nickerson all had three hits in the Husson series over the weekend.
“We have a bunch of scrappy hitters. We have guys who hit third or fourth [in the order] for their [American] Legion teams who are hitting eighth and ninth for us,” said King.
Sophomore Ben Goodall from Norway shares third-base duties with Eliot sophomore Josh Gray.
Freshman Jeff Richardson is “one of the best [defensive] shortstops we’ve ever had,” said King.
Sophomore Tom Cameron from Jackson and freshman Eric Sucy from Belgrade see duty in left field and junior Scott Geel from Calais also sees outfield duty.
Kennebunk sophomore Rob Nutter is a DH-infielder.
King has plenty of experience on the mound with his starting rotation of Farrar (2-1), Goodall (1-1), Austin (1-1) and Burke (0-2).
Goodall was 3-4 a year ago, Farrar was 2-3 with a team-leading 4.31 ERA and Austin was 1-5. Burke just played in the field last year.
Burke has strung together two strong hard-luck outings, losing 1-0 and allowing just two earned runs in a 5-4 complete-game loss to Husson.