Wolf Pack baseball cracks NAIA top 15


Loyola baseball players watch their teammates from the dugout during a 5-2 win against Brewton-Parker on April 9. Wolf Pack baseball made the NAIA top 25 poll for the first time since the program was reinstated in 1991. Photo credit: Gabrielle Korein

Alex Akes

With less than half of the regular season to go, Wolf Pack baseball has already made program history.

The Wolf Pack appeared in an NAIA Top 25 ranking for the first time since the program returned to Loyola in 1991, according to Wolf Pack Athletics. Loyola baseball moved up seven spots in the most recent NAIA coaches’ poll to No. 15 in the nation.

Head baseball coach Jeremey Kennedy said these successes are something new for the program.

“We’re halfway through the conference season and are ranked first. The guys have just been getting it done. It’s been a total team effort,” Kennedy said.

The team made some defensive changes just before their winning streak, according to Kennedy.

“We identified our team defense needed to approve, it just wasn’t good enough,” Kennedy said, “(Michael) Calamari went from left to first and (Allen) Dennis went from first to third, and we put some different guys in the outfield. Our fielding percentages steadily went up since we made those changes, that’s about the time we really went on a run.”

“We feel really good right now, it’s good that we’re playing our best baseball going into the late season,” Dennis said.

The Wolf Pack is ranked at the top of the Southern States Athletic Conference, with an 11-1 conference record and a 28-9 overall record. Many members of the team are enjoying strong individual seasons as well.

Freshman Tucker Ganley has now got on base in 21 consecutive games.

“The big message from coaches is to keep our heads down, don’t listen to the outside noise, and keep doing what we’re doing. We just wanna keep building on the success we have now and keep it moving into the postseason and make a run to Idaho,” Ganley said.

“It’s not really new to us because we’ve been working for this and we’ve kind of expected to be here, but we’re really starting to get the recognition from everyone else. It’s been cool to see it that way,” Ganley said.

On April 10, The Wolf Pack earned their third SSAC sweep of the season. Four players on the Wolf Pack have at least 10 multi-hit games this season. Alexander and Calamari are tied for the team with 14, while Dennis and Lacoste each have 11, according to Wolf Pack Athletics.

“My goal as an individual is to just be here for the team and do my role which is whatever I’m called upon to do and do what I do best. Team-wise, we’re at a good spot in conference play. We’re three weekends in and we’re at the top so far. We can control our own destiny,” Ganley said.

The Wolf Pack’s success can be attributed to the whole team, according to Kennedy.

“The freshman are contributing key roles, they’ve stepped in and have really done a good job with competing and filling roles that we’ve needed to be filled,” Kennedy said.

Dennis said the team’s mentality is confident right now.

“I think coming into the fall, everybody was a little more excited than usual just because our season got cut short and we were out of baseball. We didn’t get to finish what we started last year when we began to show we were heading in a new direction,” Dennis said.

There’s nothing off the table for The Wolf Pack, according to Dennis.

“To everyone else, it may seem like this is all kinda coming out of nowhere but behind the scenes, we all know what it is and it’s been since Coach Kennedy and Coach Bruce came in. This has been a year and a half of hard work every day working towards our goals. We’ve just been trusting the process and this is the result of that,” Dennis said.