The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


Follow KentWired on Instagram
Today’s Events

New lineup, same goals: Baseball wants it all this season

Anthony Scilla
Freshman Kolton Schaller is congratulated by coach Jeff Duncan as he passes third base April 30, 2023.

Last season, Kent State baseball suffered a heartbreaker in the Mid-American Conference championship against Ball State, but coach Jeff Duncan said the loss on a grand slam only made them stronger. 

This year, the Flashes, who have the most conference titles in the MAC, will look to take home conference Championship No. 13 and much more. 

“A huge pillar in our whole athletics firm is to win championships,” Duncan said. “That’s obviously a goal – to get back on top and win a championship and go to a regional. This program has been to Omaha before, in 2012, so it’s not like it can’t happen. But first things first, we’ve got to take care of what we need to do on a daily basis. That’s huge.” 

Duncan, the 11-year coaching veteran, signed an extension through the 2027 season in the fall of 2023. 

“I’ve been blessed to be a part of such a great baseball program that’s really bigger than me,” he said. “I’m just super grateful to lead young men at such a great place. It’s been a really good ride to this point, and I’m looking to continue our success.” 

Duncan’s “success” includes four MAC Coach of the Year awards, two MAC tournament titles, three consecutive regular season conference titles, and 321 wins with the program.

Last season, he coached the Flashes to a 42-16 overall record and had 24 in-conference victories, a single-season program record en route to the team’s 16th regular season conference title.

Duncan said that recreating the success the team had last season comes down to “controlling what [they] can control at a really high level.”

“We’re big on the process and just playing really good baseball, and that’s our goal,” he said. “Going into this season and into the MAC, we have the talent. We have a lot of guys returning, and we have really good young talent here that’ll fill in as well. It’s a really good, balanced team that will play extremely hard, and now it’s up to us to execute at a high level, and we want to be elite. That’s our biggest goal – to be consistently good not only today but every day. That’s our key.”

Six players represented KSU in the All-MAC lineup last season, and none of them will be returning to the team this season.

The team will be missing out on 18 wins, 15 saves, and 206 innings pitched (IP) from the pitchers, as well as 241 hits, 28 home runs, and 171 runs batted in (RBI) from the hitters.

Although that is a lot of talent to lose, Duncan is confident in the players that returned, like Jake Casey (Outfield), Josh Johnson (Outfield), Michael McNamara (Shortstop), Kyle Jackson (Infielder), Brody Williams (Catcher), Jordan Kolenda (Closing pitcher), and Jack Kartsonas (Starting pitcher).

According to Duncan, the biggest adjustment the team has had to make this offseason is being good consistently.

“[We want to be] the best version of ourselves and really be in love with the process of being consistently good,” he said. “The big thing for us is we don’t want to beat ourselves. We’re going to worry about us, we’re going to worry about playing good baseball and executing, and I’m really looking forward to getting into the rhythm of playing good college baseball.”

Doing that requires “differentiating” themselves from the opponents. Duncan explained that the plan to do so is broken down into four categories.

The first category is out-pitching the opponent.

“It’s key for us to be able to throw two pitches for a strike,” Duncan said. “Throwing strikes is important. We’ve got a lot of guys that have high-velocity stuff, but it’s going to be important that we don’t beat ourselves on the mound, and we’re able to fill up the strike zone.”

The second is to out-defend.

“We want to make sure we over-communicate,” Duncan said. “We are ready for the next pitch and just being on time and being in rhythm with the baseball. Kind of a next-pitch focus defensively so we can get off the field.”

Duncan lumped the third and fourth aspects into one: Out-hit and out-base run the opposition.

“I feel like we did a really good job here this year in creating runs,” he said. “We scored dang near seven runs per game on average, and our goal is to continue to do that by putting pressure on other teams defenses through base running and hitting.”

Duncan feels confident in his lineup’s ability to complete all four aspects of his game plan going into the 2024 season.

“We feel like we have the talent – I’ve been in this league for the last 10 years, and I feel like we’ve had some really, really good seasons,” he said. “We’ve won 40 games three times in the last nine years. And I feel like we stack up with those teams as far as talent; now we just got to go do it.”

The season will kick off Feb. 16, when the team takes on the University of North Carolina Wilmington on the road. First pitch will be at 4 p.m.

Last season, the Seahawks went 34-23 overall and won the Colonial Athletic Association Conference Championship. The team went to the NCAA tournament but lost both of its games in the Regionals.

The Flashes are 1-3 against UNCW, but the teams have not played since a two-game series in 2013.

“We’re starting to prepare for UNC Wilmington, and they’re good – they went to the NCAA tournament last year,” Duncan said. “It’s going to be a really good mid-major versus mid-major weekend series for us, and I can’t wait for the opportunity for us to go out there and perform.”

John Hilber is assistant sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
John Hilber, Reporter
John is a sophomore majoring in journalism with a minor in psychology. This is his second year with the KentWired team as a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected].
Anthony Scilla, Assistant Photo Editor
AJ is a sophomore studying public relations. Photography has always been a passion of AJ’s, and he is excited to take this position. Last semester, he had the opportunity to write articles on housing and dining, and he helped cover the mill fire downtown.

Comments (0)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *