Martinsville Mustangs set to take center stage as season approaches
The Coastal Plain League kicks off play on Thursday
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - For players on the Martinsville Mustangs, next Thursday can’t come soon enough.
“We got our season canceled and we’re just excited to be out here and play some baseball,” said catcher Matthew Suggs. “Get back to what we know.”
The collegiate summer team is one of 15 in the Coastal Plain League spread across the southeastern U.S.
With spring college seasons cut short, the decision to play this summer, for many, was an easy one.
“It’s definitely been kind of different, not having the season going on, but it’s also given me some extra time to get my work in and stuff like that and it kind of made the decision easy to play here, knowing that I only had half a season,” said pitcher Will Davis.
Davis is a sophomore at Ferrum, representing the ODAC on the Mustangs, but there’s plenty of D-I talent as well, including a trio of teammates from Arkansas and two from VMI.
“I think it increases the competition because you got the guys from D-III that want to show that they can compete with the SEC guys,” said VMI pitcher Ryan Huffman.
Jake Marinelli became the new head coach of the Mustangs in February. He never imagined the spring that would ensue.
“When I got the job, I obviously wasn’t expecting the coronavirus pandemic to hit, so that really affected pretty much every single aspect that you could think of and the roster has been a constant change from December to this point right now,” he said. “We’re really excited with the group that stayed and stuck it out and held out hope.”
Because of the pandemic’s impact on college baseball, Marinelli said he expects players might take this summer more seriously.
“It’s a great opportunity, especially for the guys who didn’t get a chance to prove themselves in school ball,” he said. “Good numbers this summer are going to translate extremely well when they get back to school in the fall, so I think a lot of these guys are hungry and chomping at the bit to get started, which is a little bit of a unique situation for summer ball.”
“I know I’ll be playing with guys at a whole lot bigger level than I am used to, so I’m hoping by the end of the summer, if I can go toe-to-toe with those guys, I know I’ll be ready for school,” added Davis.
With no minor league action on the horizon, there will almost certainly be more eyeballs on the team than in previous years, and the Mustangs are embracing their new status as the only game in town.
“Just from the output of local people already, I’m excited for the support that we’re going to get,” Marinelli said. “We’re the only game in town this summer, so we’re really looking forward to putting on a good show every night.”
Fans will be welcomed, with restrictions, to the opening game on Thursday. For information on the Mustangs’ season, visit their website.
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