The moment won’t be too big for his club.
After all, it’s what SUNY Cobleskill baseball head coach Lance Ratchford’s team has prepared for all season.
“It’s been something we talk about every day,” Ratchford said.
In its first season competing in the North Atlantic Conference, SUNY Cobleskill qualified for the league’s best-of-3 championship series that starts — and potentially ends — Thursday. SUNY Cobleskill and Husson meet in the championship series, which will see the teams play a doubleheader Thursday at Husson’s Harold Alfond Diamond in Bangor, Maine. If the teams split Thursday’s games, slated to start at noon and 3 p.m., then the clubs will play at noon Friday to determine the NAC’s automatic qualifier for the Division III national tournament.
“If we’re at our best, it’s going to be tough to beat us,” said Ratchford, the program’s third-year head coach. “We’re confident, and I think over the last year-and-a-half . . . they [our players] have learned to be winners.”
SUNY Cobleskill finished 3-28 in 2018. In Ratchford’s first season leading the team, SUNY Cobleskill finished 16-22, then was off to an 8-5 start last year before the remainder of the program’s season was canceled because of concerns related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
This year, SUNY Cobleskill brings a 14-7 mark into the championship series after sweeping the Western Division title series last week against SUNY Poly. Husson, which won the Eastern Division, is 20-6.
SUNY Cobleskill’s roster includes several former Section II stars, including Nick Thomas (Scotia-Glenville) who was one of the team’s four All-NAC selections. Chris Kordziel (Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons) was also named to the league’s sportsmanship team.
A 6-foot-1 senior, Thomas leads SUNY Cobleskill this season in several offensive categories, including batting average for qualified hitters (.397), home runs (five) and triples (3).
SUNY Cobleskill has won five of its last six games. In Husson, which has also won five of its last six games, Ratchford said he sees a very similar club to the one he leads.
“We know they’re going to be efficient defensively and that they’re going to be able to hit,” Ratchford said.
Heading into this season, Ratchford said he thought he had a team capable of competing for a championship. Through the team’s first 21 games, that view has only strengthened.
“They’ve answered the bell,” Ratchford said.