Put it this way -- nobody's patting himself on the back right now but nobody's destroying water coolers or bat racks, either.
Winthrop heads into another brutal stretch tonight after being swept by Southern Cal in a three-game series over the weekend, but the Eagles weren't scowling and screaming at each other over their 3-8 start. It's actually the opposite -- a glance around the field on Monday saw a group cheering on sophomore Jason Kosakow in a bullpen session and infielders Kevin Nolan and Sean Sullivan seeing if they could chuck a baseball over the outfield wall while standing on the first-base line.
"From my point of view, we're frustrated but we still have a positive attitude," said Nolan, the team's leading hitter at .386 and its top RBI producer with 10. "We know we can compete. One of these days, hopefully, it's going to snap and it's all going to click."
The Eagles take their first road trip of the season tonight, heading to Elon (13-1) before coming back home on Wednesday to face College of Charleston (10-3). That serves as a prelude to a four-game set beginning Friday at No. 15 Rice (8-5).
As coach Joe Hudak pointed out last week, Winthrop was performing different parts of the game great at different times. The Eagles just couldn't put it together.
Against the Trojans, same thing. The starting pitching regressed, the bullpen looked terrific and the season-long trend of stranding runners was once again in effect.
"This might be the worst start we've ever had since I've been here, I don't know," Hudak said. "I'd have to go back and look but I don't recall us being 3-8.
Hudak mentioned that with the strength of the Eagles' schedule (64th), Winthrop would be doing well to have a .500 record at this point. An 11-0 or even an 8-3 record, facing the teams the Eagles have faced and fielding so much youth, is very unrealistic.
And until last weekend, when Southern Cal controlled the last two games from the start, Winthrop was in every game.
"Not going to see any better clubs than those teams," Hudak said. "Everybody's been upbeat. We're just all frustrated we're not playing as well as we're capable of."
The Eagles take on the Phoenix at 4 p.m. today with Billy Tinsley (2-1, 4.72 ERA) set to start. Dave Carbonell (0-1, 1.35) is set to pitch Wednesday's 6 p.m. game against the Cougars.
• FIRST RANK: The season's first ratings were posted on boydsworld.com, a site dedicted to tracking college baseball RPIs and strength of schedule. The Eagles were 64th in SOS but 192nd in RPI.
"With the schedule that we played, that doesn't mean we can't get an at-large bid," Hudak said. "If we start winning, our RPI will be really good."
• NEW BLOOD: Sullivan, a freshman out of Columbia, started his first two games against Southern Cal, taking over at third base. The backup at second, third and shortstop, Sullivan has played in five games.
"C or D," Sullivan graded himself during the last two games. "I can play better. I'm just ready for whenever he puts me in there, and when I get a shot, I'm going to do whatever I can to help the team win."
Hudak said the move's not permanent, considering junior Bryn Henderson is one of the team's best defenders. But Henderson, along with the Eagles' other upperclassmen, hasn't been hitting as well as he normally does (.194, when he hit .296 last year).
Sullivan got a shot because he's too talented to leave on the bench without a tryout, but Henderson should reclaim his spot, perhaps tonight.
"We need Bryn Henderson to play third base for us," Hudak said. "He's one of our best hitters."
• IN THE WINGS: Redshirt freshman Wade Newman was scheduled to throw a practice session on Monday and could be getting closer to game action. Sidelined last year after a bizarre medical problem, Newman still has yet to make his collegiate debut.
One of the Eagles' top recruits two years ago, Newman had to have surgery on his throwing elbow to re-route a nerve. He was rehabbing before last season and still felt pain, so he went back to the doctor and had another MRI done.
The scan revealed a bone chip imbedded in a ligament, which was overlooked on the first MRI. Doctors had to go back in and Newman had no choice but to sit last year.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound righty could get an inning this weekend if all goes well.
Kosakow, who transferred from Stony Brook last year, could also be getting closer to action. He had Tommy John surgery but is trying to get back so he doesn't have to take a redshirt year.
WINTHROP (3-8) AT ELON (13-1)
• When: 4 p.m. today
• Where: Lathan Park, Elon, N.C.
• Tickets: Available at the box office
• On the Web: Live Gametracker available at winthrop-eagles.com
• On deck: Winthrop hosts College of Charleston at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
RS SOPHOMORE CF TYLER MCBRIDE
McBride is hitting .200 with four RBIs and has started all 10 games he's played. He also struck out one batter in the one inning he's pitched this year.
Did you know?
McBride still holds the career receiving yardage record at Ridge View High School. He caught over 1,800 yards worth of passes.