After a mediocre start to the Ivy League season, the baseball team (20–12, 8–4 Ivy) has jumped into first place in the Red Rolfe Division. The Elis were named by collegebaseballinsider.com as the national “Team of the Week” for their exceptional run, which included a stunning comeback victory over instate rival UConn and then four consecutive conference wins over Dartmouth — the year after having gone 0–4 versus the Big Green. Success for the Bulldogs came as a result of their strong pitching performances, which limited Dartmouth to just three runs all weekend. One that stood out among the rest was Pat Ludwig’s ’12 showing on Sunday where the hurler struck out 12 batters in just over seven-and-two-thirds innings pitched. The News spoke with Ludwig about his impression of the season and what his hopes are for the remainder of it.
Q: How important was this past weekend for the team and its hopes for a chance at the Ivy League title?
A: From the day the schedule came out, we knew that the Dartmouth series was the biggest weekend of the year to that point. By winning all four games, we have put ourselves in a very good position going forward.
Q: What got the team so fired up and ready to play? The team had none of the letup like before you’d split a series. Where did this intensity and focus come from?
A: Losing four games at Dartmouth [last year] proved as big of a motivation as any, but the stellar performances by our pitchers this weekend really carried us through the series.
Q: How does this past weekend rank among all the weekends you’ve played with the team so far?
A: This is the first weekend sweep that we have recorded in my three years here so it sits atop the list.
Q: Do you think such a strong performance puts more pressure on the team since you guys are now the leaders in the Red Rolfe division? Do you think more teams are now looking to upset you guys?
A: The games played within the division are always high pressure and involve some major baseball rivalries. In my three years, Dartmouth has been our biggest rival in baseball, but the series with Harvard and Brown are also major weekends during the season.
Q: You’ve had a great season so far. What did you do to train before the season?
A: Our season really starts as soon as we step on campus with a short, fall season as well as weight room sessions. Then, from October until February we have individual sessions with the coaches.
Q: How well has the team come together? More specifically, how important has the addition of the freshmen been for the team?
A: The camaraderie on this team is as good as it’s been in my three years here. We have a great group of seniors that bring everyone together. This year’s freshmen have done nothing but add to the positive environment in our clubhouse, bringing a great passion for the game every day.
Q: What makes the baseball season so challenging? Does the length of the season make it harder for teams?
A: The hardest part about the baseball season is how quickly it comes and goes. Unlike most of the other leagues in the country, the Ivy League is done when classes are done, meaning we only have five weeks of league play. This places a higher level of importance on each and every league game and the mental grind of playing four games in two days can take its toll.
Q: Do you think the team has changed its game plan significantly from the start of the season when things were not going as well?
A: I would say that we still go out with the same game plan, but we have improved in all facets of the game, which has led to our recent success.
Q: What are your hopes for the team going forward as the season draws to a close?
Our goals, from day one, have been to win our division and then win the league. From there, anything can happen.