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Diamond Diary by Kevin Cooney

March 27, 2006


A nice little song about the dreams and aspirations of people in all walks of life, this Springsteen work aptly describes the current standings of the Atlantic Sun Conference. Four teams, North Florida, East Tennessee, Mercer, and Gardner-Webb, are all tied for first place. Conspicuous by their absence are the two pre-season favorites- Stetson and Florida Atlantic. In truth, if the season ended today, Pete Dunn and I would be arm wrestling to determine a tiebreaker for the last slot in the conference tournament, and that opportunity exists only because UNF and Kennesaw aren't eligible due to their reclassification from D II.

FAU is currently treading water at 13-14, 3-6 in conference play. There are some obvious reasons that have contributed to our lack of success, none of which makes anyone here feel any better. We are what we are, and right now, that's a team struggling to find some consistency and stay above water long enough to get stronger.

This past weekend was another that showed signs of promise and reasons for concern.

Friday night featured a pitchers' duel as Mickey Storey and Jeremy Papelbon hooked up in a strikeout contest that was decided by a passed ball and a wild pitch in the ninth. Papelbon had a no hitter into the eighth, and his brother, Josh relieved in the ninth to stifle a rally and steal a 1-0 win from his sibling.

Saturday, we got an 11 strikeout performance from Chris Salberg and perfect relief pitching from Chris Eberhart and Mike Crotta to go along with some timely hitting to win the middle game, 6-3. A nice Italian dinner and a good movie had everyone ready for a good day on Sunday.

However, UNF had other ideas.

I really liked the matchup of Brandon Cooney against their hitters, but my scouting ability was proven lacking, as the Ospreys came out smoking and exploded for six runs in the first inning. The rest of the day didn't get much better for us, as we got smacked around and lost 13-3.

It was a quiet bus ride back to Boca.

Before showering, I shared my thoughts with our guys. Obviously our goals for this season have to be readjusted. Our job now is to get better each week in all phases of the game. Our mental preparation and execution needs to be at its best, while some young players acquire some tough, on the job training, and we await the return of a couple of injured starters.

What I'm asking these guys is not easy, but what choice do we have? It's time to learn from each struggle, and push each other to a little higher level of play.

That's the only way to start back to the top. KC



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