Drew Dosch isn’t unappreciative.
Dosch, Youngstown State University’s third baseman, has been drenched with preseason honors: He’s the Horizon League Player of the Year, a first-team all-league selection and Baseball America’s top professional prospect in the conference.
“It’s certainly a great honor,” Dosch said.
Pitcher Nic Manuppelli also received preseason recognition, as Baseball America deemed him the third-best conference prospect.
That’s all well and good, Dosch said, but the junior is focused on a different preseason ranking: Out of the five Horizon League teams, YSU was picked to finish last.
“The thing that we saw when we looked at that report that came out was the team standings, the prediction,” Dosch said at Monday’s press conference. “It’s not about me, not about Nic. … Everything’s got to come together to prove to people that we can play at the top of the Horizon League.”
The Penguins will begin their quest to prove themselves at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, when they travel to Birmingham, Ala., for a four-game weekend series against Samford University.
“Opening day, you’re excited or whatever, but you go out there and it’s another game,” Dosch said. “Once you step between the lines, once the first pitch is thrown, then you put everything — all the hype and accolades — behind.”
The Penguins also want to put their 11-14 record from the 2012 season behind them. That process began when first-year head baseball coach Steve Gillispie was appointed during the offseason.
Gillispie said he wants to continue that process by taking “small steps” during opening weekend.
“We gotta have guys that maybe hadn’t had as much success in the past, that have maybe struggled in their early career, have some early level of success,” he said.
Senior Blake Aquadro will be the Penguins’ starting pitcher on opening day.
“The butterflies are going to be there; the anxiety is going to be there,” Gillispie said. “Hopefully, they’ll stay focused on just doing what they’re capable of doing. Nothing more, nothing less.”