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Bradley baseball catches fire after rough start

The Bradley Braves baseball team record stands at 9-11. After a rough start of 3-9, the Braves went on a 6 game winning streak until the two most recent losses to Dartmouth last weekend.

Even with the two losses, the Braves have scored runs at a marvelous clip of late.

The team has scored 67 runs in their last eight games; good for more than 8 runs a game. That’s compared to 66 runs in the first 12 games where the team only averaged five and a half runs per game.

If the offense can keep up its current pace, they should have no problem staying above .500 and even contending for a serious postseason run.

Mike Tauchman, a senior outfielder for the Braves, believes their offense could carry them far this year.

“Offensively, we compare well with every team in the country,” Tauchman said.

Tauchman, a Business Management and Administration major from Palatine, IL, is having the best season of his collegiate career.

He is already three RBIs away from last season’s total with nearly 30 games left in the year. His hits (34) are good for 2nd in the Missouri Valley Conference, and   Tauchman has been getting on base 48 percent of the time.

The Braves have also gotten strong efforts from pitchers such as freshman Brent Strong. Strong, who was named the 2013 MVC Freshman of the Year by the website, has an Earned Run Average of 2.63.

“I think that we have a lot of young guys who are pitching beyond their years,” Tauchman said. “And defensively, we’re getting better game by game.”

He did admit however, that the team is still finding its way.

“We’re still coming into our own a little bit this season,” Tauchman said. We’ve exceeded almost everybody’s expectations so far in terms of our offense. I think that we know what we’re capable of on the mound, and defensively, we know that we’re not there yet. But I think that everyone’s committed to getting better game by game and I think that the confidence level is pretty high.”

Defense has been an issue for this team, but Tauchman says he and his teammates are aware of the problem and want to correct it.

“What happens is a lot of our losses have been due to the fact that we’ve been unable to take care of the baseball as a team,” he said. “But it’s something that everyone recognizes and is trying to improve upon.”

With an offense as capable as the Braves’, and a steadily improving defense, it is easy for a fan to have aspirations for the playoffs already. Yet, Tauchman and his teammates try not to look towards the playoffs until later in the season.

“[A Postseason Berth] is a long way away and we have a lot of improving to do as a team,” he said. “In the MVC, any team can beat any team any day, [but] I think we have the kind of tools to make a serious run at the tournament and get ourselves into a regional.”

The key, Tauchman added, is to practice ‘winning habits’.

“Winning habits become routine and that’s how you can continue success over a period of time,” he said.

To continue that success, there’s only one thing the team can do according to Tauchman.

“We’ve got to keep improving,” he said, “and not hit any panic button.”

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