Solidarity equals success for Highlanders

May 6, 2016 | 8:52 AM

The MacMurray Baseball team sealed their fate last night, dominating Principia College in two games, winning 8-3 and 10-1, respectively. This will be the first St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) tournament appearance since 1999. The Highlanders finished off the season with a winning record of 22-18, 15-7 SLIAC, under first-year Head Coach Austin Brough.

“It is a very close group.  They are talented and persistent.  There is a lot of fight in these guys.  They have worked extremely hard and believed in the system from the beginning.    All the effort and commitment is starting to pay off.  They are playing good, clean baseball when it counts and we have fought our way into the tournament,” Coach Brough said.

The Highlanders opened up the season less than satisfactory, dropping in the first four games of the year. Adding several new players to the roster following the closing of Benedictine, this team was new, and they faced difficulty trying to find a rhythm. Their slump did not last long as they snapped their losing streak on Feb. 27, taking two games against Aurora University.

This year the Highlander team gained 10 Benedictine transfer students that have impacted the team in a major way. Three of those players are regular positional starters, and three of them aid with pitching. Senior pitcher Dillon Hodges discussed how the new team has become a family and how much the transfer students have impacted this season. Hodges has been with the program since freshman year and has been a key asset to their success.

 “They fit in extremely well with our program. They have helped us progress, and they filled in roles where we were in need,” Hodges said.

The Highlanders continued the winning streak with four games and would do so again two more times. It was undoubtedly clear that this team had come together and found a new pace. Connor Jacobs took the first Pitcher of the Week honors securing a win over Knox allowing one hit and striking out eight batters.  Luke Jarvis threw a no-hitter, earning SLIAC Pitcher of the Week and was named HERO of the Week by Hero Sports. Drew Johnson also captured SLIAC Player of the Week honors with a .429 batting average, six RBIs and three homeruns.

The talent is apparent, but solidarity has aided in this team’s success.

Coach Brough said, “These guys love coming to the field every day. There is a tremendous amount of respect within the group, and they are really coming together as a complete team.  They play for each other and at this level, there is a tremendous amount of value in that.”

Coach Brough began his journey at MacMurray working as the assistant under former Head Coach Justin Fuhler. Together they have molded the team into a successful program.

Fuhler said, “The success has been recruiting good kids. If you look up and down the roster, we have guys who are good players but are also good people. To walk into this program five years ago as an assistant and rebuild a team that was only winning a handful of games a year, seeing the players that I recruited to Mac celebrate a division championship was very satisfying.”

Fuhler now resides as MacMurray’s Athletic Director.  Within his first year in the position two teams have not only shattered records but have also now both made conference tournament appearances.

“Their success means a lot to me as the head of the athletic department, but the credit goes to our players and coaches. For the College, athletic success is huge. The success shows prospective students that Mac is back,” said Director Fuhler. 

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