Senior Anthony Harrold walks back into the dugout in a game last year. Harrold was first on the team in runs, home runs, slugging percentage (.568) and on-base percentage, runs, home runs, slugging percentage and on-base percentage last season. Multimedia Editor/Miguel Martinez.

Flashback to December 2017. Mitch Walker had shoulder surgery and wasn’t sure he’d ever play baseball again.

Fast forward to today. He now has six RBI’s in two games on three hits with a double and a grand slam.

Walker spent the offseason training, which led to head coach Mike Dickson approaching him with an opportunity to help the Profs win. That’s just what he has done.

Walker’s two-RBI double against Stevenson University on Monday was the difference between a win and a loss.

Even though his production has been both obvious and significant, he said he always wants to hit better and would rather win over anything.

As a self-proclaimed “open guy,” he’s fitting right in with the team in his first season since transferring from Cumberland County Community College.

In sports, you’ll often hear about teams “winning ugly” and that’s just what the Brown and Gold did in the 3-2 win.

“It wasn’t our best performance,” Dickson said. “We got a win that’s the most important thing.”

Dickson has talked about “freebies” before, those being errors, walks and hit-by-pitches. The Profs gave Stevenson a total of 10.

On top of the freebies, they were unable to execute on a bunt in the seventh, couldn’t score a leadoff baserunner in the ninth, the pitchers didn’t locate as well as they could’ve and they were just outplayed from the fifth inning on.

But they won, ugly as it may have been.

This is a sign of a good baseball team, though. One that can get themselves out of jams and come out the other side with a win.

“I thought we made critical pitches when we needed to,” Dickson said. “And we got out of some jams. We created [the jams] but we were able to do a good job competing on the mound and getting out of those jams.”

This was also the team’s first game on grass this season and they’ll be practicing on grass for the first time on Wednesday. This is important because, according to Dickson, turf will always give a “true bounce” and grass acts unpredictably at times.

As the team heads into the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational this Friday through Saturday, March 23, it’s important that the team is able to practice and play at full scale to work out some remaining kinks before being thrown into the fire that is Central Florida.

The Brown and Gold went 8-0 at the tournament last year despite the elevated talent they saw. This year, they will see more elite talent from nationally ranked teams and one Division I team, Bradley University, who is predicted to finish third in the Mountain Valley Conference.

“It’s a good test for where we need to be throughout the year,” Dickson said

Walker has never been to the tournament but is looking forward to the competition. He won’t be treating the games as anything other than another game, though.

“Every game is important for us,” Walker said. “I don’t like to lose. I don’t think anyone likes to lose. We’re going to go down there and take care of business and win some games.”

Another reason everyone is excited is the weather. Walker talked about how the pitchers will be able to come out and throw harder and how it’ll be better on the batting side, too. Dickson called it “good hitting weather.”

He’s looking for consistent hitting, pitching and fielding from his team and the weather should help with all of the above. It’ll keep them loose on the bench, make hitting easier and will loosen pitchers’ arms. They’ll just have to stay hydrated.

The team will play eight games in Auburndale and Winter Haven, Florida, from March 15 through March 23.

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