Baseball starts its season swinging

With a motto of “Burn the Ships,” the baseball team wants to improve every day and move forward together as one unit.


The Washington and Lee men’s baseball team has made quite a name for itself over the past two season.

In Feb. 2016, the team was selected ninth in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference’s pre-season poll. They finished the season in third place, and were chosen third this Feb. in the same pre-season poll.

In 2015, the long-time head coach Jeff Stickley announced his retirement after 29 years at the helm of the Generals baseball team. Although he has gone down in history as one of W&L’s greatest baseball coaches, his final season struggled to live up to his legacy. This left the incoming head coach, Lucas Jones, with big shoes to fill. It became quickly clear in his first season that he was ready to hit the ground running.

“My responsibility was to foster great relationships and begin the process of building a championship culture,” Jones said. “I was fortunate to inherit players who were committed to re-establishing a culture that is committed to excellence and high standards. This turnaround was about the player commitment, not the coaching staff.”

This year’s team has 22 returning players from last year’s squad, including one All-American player, and three additional All-ODAC team members.

Relief pitcher Danny Devereux ,’19, and third basemen Ryan Weston, ’17, notched a spot on the All-ODAC second team in the 2016 season. Catcher and captain Cory Paton, ’17, earned a spot on the All-ODAC third team last spring. The blue and white also adds eleven first-years to the roster.

Captain Tom Concklin, ’17, also garnered ABCA Second-Team All-American honors and First-Team All-Region honors and goes into his senior year with the best career ERA in program history, sitting at just 1.77.

However, Concklin’s goals reach much farther than just himself.

“My personal accolades last year were a lot of fun, but I am coming into this year solely focused on the team and the program,” Concklin said. “My goal every year is to be the best version of myself to help us win a championship, whether that be on the mound or not.”

The Generals have been hard at work throughout the fall and winter off-seasons to prepare for the 2017 season.

“Not only have we worked harder to be stronger, faster and better than the teams we face,” Concklin said. “But [we] also want to be the hardest working and most energetic team on the field, day after day.”

Team goals this year revolve not just around winning championships, but being the best version of the team they can be, on and off the field.

“We want to win championships, but we are going to do it our way,” Jones said. “That means we are going to win with class, lose with class, and perform at a high level.”

One of the main focuses of the team both in the off-season and the beginning of practice has been developing the team’s relationship.

“We are moving out of a comfortable culture and moving towards a constructive culture,” Jones said. “The sign to our program says ‘under construction,’ meaning that the end result should be pretty impressive.”

Even this early in the season, the team has been faced with the “injury bug,” Jones said.

“We have some key guys that are out right now and will continue to be out for several more weeks,” Jones said. “Right now, we aren’t very lucky with all the injuries…sometimes you make your own luck and we have very capable players to step into those roles that are ready to perform at a high level.”

Aside from injuries, the team has other difficulties to overcome, especially throughout the beginning of the season.

“We have a challenging out-of-conference schedule,” Paton said. “But this will prepare us for the grind of the ODAC conference.”

Over the past two seasons, the team’s motto has been “Burn the Ships,” and their practice shirts all are adorned with the phrase. This motto is a reference to Hernán Cortés reaching the mainland of Mexico, then burning his ships in order to demonstrate to the conquistadores that there was no turning around; moving forward was the only option. Concklin explained the reference further.

“It means that if you want to be a part of our program, you have to be ready to leave your comfort zone and move forward, day after day,” Concklin said. “We are going to trudge forward as a unit and never look back.”

The team traveled to Averett University in Danville on Saturday and split the double header. In the first game, the Generals fell to the Cougars 5-8, but rallied in the second game and won 6-3.

Concklin took the loss in the first game, allowing four runs and striking out four batters in his 2.1 innings on the mound.

At the plate, Paul Diven, ’18, led the way with a home-run in the top of the fourth, allowing Paton and Robey Smalley, ’18, to score as well.

David Van Geluwe, ’18, took the win in the second game, pitching 2.1 innings, striking out two batters and allowing no runs. Anderson Baldy, ’17, got the save, pitching 0.2 innings and allowing no runs.

Three Generals hit doubles to solidify the second game win. Zach Loewenberg, ’19, Ryan Monson ,’20, and Paton led the way at the plate.

The team kicks off home play against Ferrum College on Feb. 14 at Cap’n Dick Smith Field.