Wessel's Words: A Season-Long Blog by Redshirt Senior Ben Wessel

June 2, 2017 - A Final Goodbye
I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend. Unfortunately, this will be the final blog post for Wessel's Words. For those who are unaware, our season came to an abrupt end last Friday, when we were eliminated from the Atlantic 10 tournament in St. Louis. It's tough to just type that sentence out, let alone come to terms with our season being finished. Our team had high expectations coming into this year. We sat down as a team in the fall and put together a list of goals that included the following... [continue reading]

May 18, 2017 - A Bittersweet Senior Day
Time flies when you're having fun, and that couldn't be truer for this season – and pretty much the past five years as well. We hosted our final conference series against George Mason University last weekend at Bill Beck Field, where – although we were excited to be in the position we were in as a team approaching the A-10 tournament – it was a bittersweet moment for me and the other seniors. On Saturday, Matt O'NeilJesse LeeMartin FigueroaBlaise WhitmanMike Corin and I were recognized by coaches, teammates and other athletic department staff members for our endless work and dedication to the program in a pregame Senior Day ceremony. It was a great ceremony for us, but at the same time, it just was so surreal… like I still can't completely wrap my head around the fact that we will be graduating this upcoming weekend... [continue reading]

May 3, 2017 - The Rammys
Welcome back to this week's edition of Wessel's Words. It's crazy how fast the past couple of months have gone by. We're already approaching Finals Week and finishing up the last week of class - which means one thing: beautiful weather and baseball. There's no better time of year than when we don't have to worry about school and classes and just focus on the last stages of the season and putting ourselves in the best position we can to get into the tournament and go as far as we possibly can. The end of the season also means recognition for the seniors and all they have accomplished over the course of their careers. On Monday night, the University of Rhode Island Athletic Department hosted an event – The Rammys – to honor the senior student-athletes on each team as well as hand out a number of awards to deserving individuals... [continue reading]

April 28, 2017 - It's Good to be Home
Welcome back to this week's edition of Wessel's Words. For this week's blog post, I wanted to give a midseason check in on how the team is doing and how the season has transpired up to this point. As of now, we sit 22-16 overall, with a 10-4 conference record, putting us in second place at the moment. For the first 10 weeks of the season, we have been on the road for nine weekends. Only seven of our 38 games so far have been played here at home. To be in the position we are in right now, by winning games on the road while dealing with the strenuous travel, says a lot about the guys on the team and our program as a whole. We have had to overcome a lot of adversity; probably more than most teams in the country at this point... [continue reading]

April 13, 2017 - Preparing for Life After Baseball
If you were to ask a baseball player what baseball means to him, everyone's answer would be different. For some, baseball is just that: a game. For others, it could be a lifestyle. One thing is definite, though – for all collegiate players alike, baseball gives you an opportunity that will impact the rest of your life. When you're a high school student being recruited by Division I programs, you can't help but think that you've got a shot of achieving a childhood dream in being drafted and playing professionally. Being young and inexperienced, that is what drives you: to make it to The League... [continue reading]

April 4, 2017 - Taso's Road Back from Tommy John Surgery
Welcome back to this week's edition of Wessel's Words. For this post, I sat down with Taso Stathopoulos, who has pitched in many big games for our program and has been one of our most consistent pitchers throughout his four years here at URI. I decided to sit down with Taso because – after missing all of last year and the first half of this season – he made his first appearance in more than 600 days last week at Northeastern. The time he missed was the result of having Tommy John Surgery, followed by a ruptured nerve in his surgically repaired elbow that set him back even further... [continue reading]

March 23, 2017 - A Quick Look Back, A Quick Look Ahead
This past week, our team was put to the test and we came away with great success. We first hosted Sacred Heart on Tuesday, and fought back from a 4-0 deficit to come away with a 6-4 victory. The victory was highlighted by the resiliency of our bullpen, which held Sacred Heart to just one hit after the third inning.  Guys like Nick Robinson, Dom Grillo, Mark Silvestri, Blaise Whitman, Cam LaFleur and Tyler Barss dominated the game on the mound. Our hitters also showed toughness by chipping away after going down early in the game.  Jordan Powell, Matt O'Neil and Mike Foley led the way in that come-from-behind win... [continue reading]

March 23, 2017 - Q&A with Coach Vance
I hope the past two weeks have treated everybody well! I would like to apologize for the delayed posts lately; with all the traveling we do early in the season, sometimes it is difficult to find time to finish blog posts, but I will try my best to keep everyone updated and stay consistent to the weekly routine like this past fall! For this week's blog post, I decided to extend the segment on getting to know the coaches. Instead of a baseball Q&A, I thought it would be fun and entertaining to sit down with assistant coach Kevin Vance in a video interview… and instead of asking about his baseball experiences and expertise, I wanted to inform the audience on Coach Vance's personality and the type of person he is - because it is one of a kind... [continue reading] 

March 7, 2017 - Q&A with Ben Herbster
Welcome back to this week's edition of Wessel's Words. With the first few weekends of the season in the book, many guys have now had their first taste of college baseball at the Division I level. Although I am a fifth-year senior, every year I feel those "first game" nerves the same way I did in my first outing as a freshman. So, for this week's blog, I wanted to sit down with redshirt freshman Ben Herbster, and talk about his thoughts on making the 35-man roster, as well as the experience he gained during his first trip as a member of the travel squad. From the perspective of an older guy on the team, seeing guys like Herbster come in, work as hard as he has the past two years, and be rewarded for the work he has put in is awesome... [continue reading] 

Feb. 21, 2017 - Looking Back on Opening Weekend
Welcome back to the blog! College Baseball is finally back and in full swing! It feels like just yesterday we were in South Carolina playing in a Regional, but those are just distant memories now, and it's time to get the ball rolling on this season! For those who did not tune in to our opening weekend, we traveled to Lake Charles, LA to play in a three-game tournament at McNeese State. On Friday, we opened up with Missouri State, where unfortunately, we lost 12-1. On Saturday, we played the tournament host team, McNeese State, which is a very talented and underrated team. Against them, we took a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning, fell behind 4-2 and came back to tie it in the top of the ninth, only to come up short and watch them walk off with the 5-4 win. On Sunday, we played Stony Brook for the final game of the tournament. The bats came out swinging, more specifically, Mike Corin came out swinging, hitting two home runs in the game and leading us to a 6-3 victory - our first of the season. Although we came up short on our goal of leaving the tournament with a winning record, there were many positive takeaways from the weekend... [continue reading]

Feb. 13, 2017 - Getting to Know Coach Martin
Welcome back to this week's edition of Wessel's Words. Throughout the course of the year, I've had posts that introduced various players and even a team manager on the blog, but for this week, I felt it was only right to show the coaching staff some love with a "Get to Know the Coaches" feature. In just two years with our new coaching staff (that being Coach Cerrato at head coach, Coach Martin as the associate head coach, and Coach O'Brien as an assistant coach), our program has experienced great success. In 2015, when we were picked to finish toward the bottom of our conference in the preseason poll, we made it to the Atlantic 10 championship game and exceeded the public's expectations of our team. Then we followed with the A-10 regular-season and tournament titles in 2016, as well as the program's first-ever win in an NCAA Regional game. Sure, the players are the ones performing on the field, but the coaching staff has had a tremendous influence on the outcome of games and our overall seasons. In his first two years as a Head Coach, Coach Cerrato has earned back-to-back A-10 Coach of the Year awards, but he'll be the first to tell you that those awards aren't about him. They are a reflection of the endless preparation and work put in by the players and coaching staff alike. So, with that being said, this week's blog post with Associate Head Coach Jim Martin – who is going into his third year with the program – is a highly anticipated one to say the least... [continue reading]

Feb. 7, 2017 - Super Bowl Sunday
Hello and welcome back! For this week's blog post, I wanted to step away from baseball and talk about what all of New England was preparing for for the past 10 months… and that is the Patriots and Super Bowl LI. It is a pretty unique situation within our locker room here, because we have guys from all over the country. There are the die-hard Patriots fans that are mostly from the Northern New England states like Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. But even some guys from Rhode Island and then the guys who are from Connecticut are split 50-50 between the Patriots or the New York Giants or the Jets. Then there's the guys on the team who are from nowhere near New England - like Texas or California - that have their own teams with different rivalries they root for. Finally, we have the guys from New York and New Jersey, who just love to hate on all New England professional sports teams… and this is where the friendly rivalries between these guys and the New Englanders pick up, because every non-Patriots fan absolutely hates the Pats... [continue reading]

Jan. 30, 2017 - Getting Back Into the Swing of Things
First, I would like to say I hope every one had a safe and eventful holiday season with friends and family, and that 2017 has treated you all well thus far! With the first month of the year almost in the books, all there is left to say is Rhody Baseball is getting right back into the swing of things and picking up where we left off. The winter break for the team is one of the toughest times of the year for a variety of reasons. Most of us out-of-state guys will return home and spend time with family and pick up a winter job to earn some extra cash. At the same time, it is on us individually to find a weight room, as well as a place to continue baseball workouts. This is where it can get complicated for some guys, because factors like snow can take away our ability to throw outside, take ground balls and work on defensive drills. On top of that, even trying to find a batting cage to hit or throw off a mound may be tough... [continue reading]

Dec. 12, 2016 - The Intercollegiate Athletics Forum
Okay, so for this week's blog post, I was asked to discuss a more personal story… This past week, I attended the Learfield Intercollegiate Athletic Forum in New York City, where I sat on a panel and shared my experience as a Division I student-athlete. This was an amazing event - held at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square - and I have to thank my academic advisor Jen MacNab, Coach Cerrato, and the URI athletic department for giving me the opportunity to go to NYC and share my story... [continue reading]

Dec. 5, 2016 - Finals Week
For this week's blog post, I wanted to discuss the last week of the semester... aka Finals Week. I'll be taking you through how we prepare for exams, how we manage to balance our baseball schedule with studying for finals, and what - as a team - our academic goals are. At the beginning of each semester, Coach Cerrato and the coaching staff conduct a meeting with our academic advisor to discuss an overall team GPA that will challenge us to excel in the classroom, but is also reasonable and reachable. Our team goal for this fall semester is to have a team GPA of a 3.00 or better... [continue reading]

Nov. 28, 2016 - Thanksgiving Weekend with the Family
It’s that time of year again! Where the temperatures are dropping, the sun sets earlier each day, and light layers of snow begin to fall heading into the winter season. For many of us, last weekend's Thanksgiving break was the first time since the summer that we've been able to see our families and spend time at home. It's always great to take in the week and spend time with family, friends, and relatives; but at the same time, Thanksgiving break is also a reminder that Finals Week is right around the corner, so this week off was a great opportunity for us to relieve some stress, take some weight off our shoulders and relax before we all start preparing for exams.  For this week’s blog post, I asked some of the guys what they are most thankful for, and the common response was simple: Family... [continue reading]

Nov. 21, 2016 - How Team Leadership Has Helped Define Rhody Baseball
Welcome back to Wessel's Words. Over the past week, the coaching staff has met with each of us individually, to discuss where we stand at this point in the season and what the staff is expecting out us as individuals. These meetings also help to provide an overall sense of how the team is doing, both on and off the field. After having my conversation with the coaching staff and discussing the outlook of the team, one thing was certain: we will go as far as the leadership on the team takes us. Being in my final year, I'm starting to realize that this will be the last time I go through these types of things: my last fall ball season, the last season of 6AM lifts, the last end of fall ball meetings with the coaches, etc. So, I started to reflect on my five years here at URI and how the program has been shaped and molded into what we are today... [continue reading]

Nov. 14, 2016 - Life as a Rhody Baseball Freshman
Welcome back to this week's edition of Wessel's Words. For this week's blog, I decided to interview some of our freshmen, just to check up and get their take on how the transition from high school to college has been, both on and off the baseball field. For many incoming freshmen, being on your own for the first time can be overwhelming. There are always thoughts that rush through your head like: Am I going to like this school? Am I going to make friends? What field do I want to pursue a career in? These questions are just some examples of what goes through the mind of a typical college student during the first days after moving in and living on-campus. When you're a Division I student-athlete, not only are you getting used to being on your own for the first time, you're also being exposed to another new environment on the baseball field. For some, this transition may be more difficult than it is for others..[continue reading] 

Nov. 7, 2016 - It's Flag Football Season
In last week's blog, I highlighted the end of our fall ball season and mentioned that a new season is upon us. What does this mean? It means the start of the regular season is even closer, and it's time to start gearing up for it. Although our fall practices and intrasquad scrimmages are over, that does not mean baseball is over. We lift daily Monday through Thursday – two 6:00 a.m. lifts and two afternoon lifts – in addition to doing sort of conditioning each day. The coaching staff also divides us up based on position to get individual sessions in, to fine tune specific things we need to work on going into this two month break. As fun as all of this may sound, what we really look forward to is Fridays. Each Friday, instead of doing regular conditioning and having the coaches blow whistles to tell us to run, they do the opposite. To keep a competitive atmosphere - and to make conditioning fun - Fridays are reserved for flag football... [continue reading] 

Oct. 31, 2016 - The Keaney-Navy World Series
Welcome back to Week 7 of Wessel's Words. As I mentioned in last week's post, we had our annual, end of the fall intrasquad Keaney-Navy World Series the weekend before last. Going into the KNWS, the coaching staff gets together and has a draft to pick the two teams – Team Navy, led by Coach Martin, and Team Keaney, led by Coach O'Brien. There was a ton of hype for Team Keaney and Coach O'Brien's squad, because Keaney had taken the World Series the past two years and was looking for a three-peat. Coach Martin, who was looking to make his mark in the World Series, was seeking his first World Series title in his three years here. With all the anticipation, hype and camaraderie, the games did not disappoint! [continue reading

Oct. 24, 2016 - The Annual Rhody Baseball Golf Outing
Last Monday, we hosted our program's annual golf tournament at Valley Country Club in Warwick, RI, and what a day it was! Temperatures reached the mid-70s, with blue skies, a light breeze and an unbelievable scenery of golfing greens and colored leaves on the surrounding trees. Rhody baseball alumni – ranging from recent grads to as far back as 30 years ago – were in attendance, as well as URI baseball supporters, athletic department staff members and friends & family of our current players and coaches. A bunch of our current players were there too; some were lucky enough to play, others were there to help make sure the event ran smoothly... [continue reading]

Oct. 17, 2016 - Meet an Unfamiliar Face, Team Manager Kyle Holland
For this week's blog post, I wanted to introduce a person on our team that may be an unfamiliar face to those who follow our program... Beginning last fall, Kyle Holland (or KH, as we like to call him) became a part of our team - as a bullpen catcher and student manager. But in reality, he has done so much more than that: he has become an energy-giver, as well as a true "dirt-dog" since the day he entered our program... [continue reading]

Oct. 9, 2016 - MLB Scout Day, From a Player's Perspective
Every year our program hosts something called Scout Day; a day where scouts from MLB organizations come to observe the talent we have on our team and get an up-close look at guys that may be on a team's radar, or even write down a couple names to take back to their respective organizations to keep in mind for the future. This day is also a time where we as players are able to showcase our abilities individually, as well as show the talent we have as a team. This year's Scout Day was on October 4, so just last week. And I would say that, across the board, it was a huge success for our program... [continue reading]

Oct. 3, 2016 - Checking in with the Fifth-Year Guys
For this week's post, I wanted to introduce you to our redshirt seniors – Matt O'NeilBlaise WhitmanJesse LeeMike Corin and myself – and let you hear our thoughts on a few different things. In our five years here at URI, baseball has taken us across the country. In addition to facing the teams in our conference and region, we've traveled to Florida State (twice), Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Wake Forest, Florida Golf Coast, College of Charleston, The Citadel, Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, Winthrop, Campbell, Towson and Penn State – to name a few. We also had the opportunity to play in Notre Dame's USA Baseball-Irish Classic at the USA Baseball Training Complex in Cary, N.C. I'm sure each guy that went on these trips has their own opinions and takeaways from the experience they gained, so I decided to sit down with our fifth-year guys and get their thoughts... [continue reading]

Sept. 27, 2016 - The Ins and Outs of Fall Ball
So, it's that time of year again: the fall ball season is upon us. Last week was our first official week of practice as a team. Fall ball, in my opinion, is the most important time of the year for us as a team. For freshmen, of course there are going to be some nerves during that week because they are being exposed to a new environment and a new pace of the game. For them, it is a time to show everybody on the field that they belong here. That's what makes fall ball so great, it's the competition aspect amongst us as teammates, not just for the freshmen, but every guy on that field, because we are all competing for a spot on the spring roster... [continue reading]

Sept. 19, 2016 - Welcome to the Blog!
Hello everyone! My name is Ben Wessel, and I'm a redshirt senior pitcher here at the University of Rhode Island. Over the past year, our program has faced a plethora of changes, in a positive way. We have gone from being a contender in the Atlantic 10 conference to A-10 regular season and tournament champions, as well as a nationally-recognized program. With that being said, I will be updating you on how our program here at URI continues to develop over the course of the year with weekly blogs that will cover everything from one-on-one interviews with players and coaches, to recaps of inner-squad scrimmages during the fall, regular season games during the spring, and even the lifestyle of being a college student here at URI. So first, thank you for checking out the blog. Now let's get this thing going! [continue reading]