Ramblers revving up as season works it way toward month of May

With a little more than three weeks to go before the end of the 2024 high school baseball regular season, the Regis Ramblers are revving up with two goals in mind.

“The two biggest goals we have are to secure a winning record and to win the conference title and we have a shot at both,” Regis head baseball coach Andy Niese told the Leader-Telegram Monday night.

At 5-6 overall and 4-2, good for third place in the Cloverbelt West Conference, Niese feels those are both goals “we have put ourselves in a position to attain” down the home stretch of the season.

Part of what has made the goals within reach for this squad is the mentality Niese has instilled in the players since day one of pre-season practices and it’s a message he continues to stress to the squad every step along the way.

“The strength of this team has been just the willingness to listen, to be coached,” Niese said. The head coach added that it’s been important for the players to realize that they are competing as a group and those strengths he has instilled in them have to be remembered always, from the first pitch of the game to the last pitch.

Never was that more evident than in an April 18th game versus Cloverbelt-West conference foe Bloomer when the Ramblers, down 5-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, came back with bats ablazing. It was then that senior Alex Ciulla hit a walk-off grand slam and the Regis baseball team scored eight runs in the bottom of that stanza to go on and give the Blackhawks a 9-5 shellacking.

“That gave us a huge injection of energy and adrenaline to our system,” Niese said.

The head coach added that the sweep against McDonell Central Catholic that started the Ramblers 2024 season was a big morale booster for his squad, too, and helped set the tone for how he wants his squad to respond in every game.

“Offensively, I think we have done a better job that people expected us to because of the loss of a lot of heavy hitters from last season,” Niese said.

With that said, the head coach said there are definitely a few things the team needs to work on to achieve their aforementioned goals.

Noting that many high school teams face the same problems, Niese mentioned improving the team’s defense, throwing more strikes and pitching in general as things that need to be worked on.

Unfortunately, “there’s no secret sauce and no magic drill to improve upon those things, the coach said, noting that “it takes a lot of repetition and a lot of practice.”

And practice has not necessarily come easy for the Ramblers — or any high school team that plays outdoors — with the unseasonably cold temperatures and uncertain weather Mother Nature has bestowed upon the region this spring.

“The biggest factor has been the temperature, it’s been downright cold,” which Niese said “does create some safety concerns (for his players) at times.

To date, though, inclement weather has only canceled three non-conference games and those are contests that Niese is uncertain as to whether they’ll be made up.

“That’s actually not bad because of how dicey the weather has been,” Niese noted, though, saying that he can actually recall much worse weather than this during past seasons.

Next up for the Ramblers is an away contest at Stanley-Boyd set for Tuesday, weather permitting, at 4:30 p.m. The Orioles then take on Regis Thursday at 5 p.m. at Mt. Simon. The week is scheduled to wrap up for the Ramblers with a non-conference game versus Clayton Friday at 5 p.m., also at Mt. Simon.