It's no surprise that baseball teams in the northern states can be at a disadvantage against teams from the south.
In its early season games in Florida, Benedictine's baseball team found that out first-hand. However, now that they have returned to Illinois, the Eagles are hitting their stride.
"Looking at the national rankings, three teams we played in Florida were in the top 10 and a few more were honorable mentions," coach John Ostrowski said. "Since we got back you can see we can compete in our conference."
Before falling to Aurora on Tuesday night, the Eagles (11-11, 7-2) were on a five-game winning streak and had gone over the .500 mark on the season. In conference they are firmly in second place.
Ostrowski said much of the team's success has come from the pitching staff. The depth in both starting and bullpen pitchers has been key, Ostrowski said.
"It starts with pitching and we've had some good consistent pitching performances both in the starters and bullpen. When you play those back-to-back nine-inning games you have to have a good bullpen," he said.
Since the start of conference play, Benedictine has had two pitchers among the top statistically in the NACC. In two conference apperances covering 12⅓ innings pitched, Chris Jordan has a microscopic 0.73 ERA and a WHIP of just 0.81.
While the arms may have gotten the team this far, Ostrowski said he knows he will need more consistency from his lineup. The top half of the order seems to have settled in, the coach said, but the bottom still needs some work.
Led by preseason All-America outfielder Tim Hendricks, Ostrowski said he hopes to get his hitters in their groove by the time they finish the season with the conference leader and favorite, Concordia Chicago. A strong finish to the regular season could give the Eagles a chance to continue their season in to the conference tournament and beyond. With another game Wednesday against Aurora, Benedictine looks to start a new streak.
"We are in good shape, we are pretty healthy and looking forward to bouncing back tomorrow then another big weekend of games," Ostrowski said. "When you are playing as many games in conference as we are you have to play well every day. The whole goal every day is to get to the conference tournament and get the automatic bid."