Baseball: Seniors reflect on time with program, express confidence about team’s future


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Jack Claeys waits for the pitch. The senior catcher’s season ended with last weekend’s series loss to Belmont.

Ryan Wangman, Copy Chief


For a majority of the season, senior Connor Lind ceded most of his usual third base duties to sophomore Charlie Maxwell, shifting his role to designated hitter. But on Saturday, Lind was in the five spot for his final collegiate appearance, linking up with longtime infield companion Jack Dunn in a display of what they call “left-side loyalty.”

Lind, who has played baseball since he was 5 years old, felt a whirlwind of emotions following his final game in a Northwestern uniform.

“The passion for baseball and life has just been something that I’ve been able to feed off of from every one of these guys,” he said. “I’ve made some of my best friends on this team and those are the things I’ll miss the most: the relationships and the strong bonds that we have together.”

The senior class has seen its share of ups and downs on the field with the Wildcats. It is the last class to have had Paul Stevens as its coach, who in his final year at NU led the team to an unimpressive 18-36 record. The group was also around the following season, when the Cats set the program record for losses.

But in the class members’ junior years, they contributed to a frenzied late-season push to net a Big Ten conference tournament berth and then took part in a miracle bracket run that saw NU painfully close to capturing a tournament victory and making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1957. Senior catcher Jack Claeys was a key contributor during the streak, plating runs with a double and a home run and helping to upset Minnesota and Maryland.

Claeys emphasized the importance of the community he has found with the team.

“You know, it’s weird,” he said. “It’s not like you’re just playing baseball with them, right? I live with all those guys, and those guys, whether they’re freshmen this year or juniors or seniors … they’re all over at our house and they’re just growing … socially as well as athletically and academically.”

Over the weekend, coach Spencer Allen said he wasn’t necessarily thinking about the seniors’ performances in the series loss against Belmont, but rather how they’ve impacted the team throughout their careers.

He added that the senior class members weren’t afraid to challenge other teammates and coaches in a respectful way, and that they worked hard.

“I think about the last three years, what they’ve done, what they’ve meant to this program,” Allen said. “It’s hard right there, just having to go say bye to them, you don’t get to coach ’em (anymore), so it’s tough.”

Looking forward, Claeys was confident in the positive direction of the program, regardless of this season’s result. Tacking on, Lind said he’d heard great things about the new recruits, and that the coaching staff would take the program as far as they could.

“It’s hard to realize that it’s over for me and for the rest of the seniors,” Lind said. “But at the same time we’re excited to see what Northwestern does in the future, (and) we’re going to miss these guys like crazy.”

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