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Opinion | Do not weigh Reddit law school forums too heavily this upcoming application cycle
Opinion | Do not weigh Reddit law school forums too heavily this upcoming application cycle
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 18, 2024

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Opinion | Do not weigh Reddit law school forums too heavily this upcoming application cycle
Opinion | Do not weigh Reddit law school forums too heavily this upcoming application cycle
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 18, 2024

Pitt baseball looks ahead to 2024 season during fall exhibition games

Pitt%E2%80%99s+baseball+team+huddles+on+the+field+during+its+game+against+Louisville+on+April+3%2C+2022.+
Nate Yonamine | Senior Staff Photographer
Pitt’s baseball team huddles on the field during its game against Louisville on April 3, 2022.

While the 2024 baseball season is still months away, that doesn’t stop Pitt baseball from looking ahead. The Panthers kicked off their fall exhibition schedule with a 10-8 win over Toledo on Oct. 13. 

As the fall season progresses, several players are already looking forward to the start of the regular season. Many of the Panthers have big goals for the upcoming season, and are starting to train to reach these lofty dreams. Here’s how a few players are spending their fall and what they’re looking forward to in 2024. 

Sophomore pitcher Ryan Reed

The sophomore left-handed pitcher had a strong opening season last spring, posting a 2.08 ERA while only allowing six hits

Reed said there’s a huge difference in his offseason work compared to last year’s. As a first-year, Reed needed time to adjust to his new surroundings. With a year under his belt in Division I baseball, he’s prepared for a heavier workload. 

“Coming in as a freshman is a whole new world versus coming in as an older guy,” Reed said. “I think mainly the aspect of being away from home, being on your own for the first time all that stuff plays a factor. So coming and having everything figured out off the field helps a ton.” 

Many pitchers use these fall games to see where their game is at in low-stakes conditions, while also touching up on the simple stuff. Reed is intent on improving upon his pitch command. 

“Continue to polish everything off at the end of last year,” Reed said. “At the end of last year, me and the coaching staff had a meeting where there were a few things to touch up as far as simple stuff landing more strikes with all three pitches, being more consistent, being able to hit your spots, multiple times an at bat instead of just going pitch for pitch.”

Senior outfielder CJ Funk 

Funk had surgery last summer and wasn’t fully able to improve his game. After a 2022 season where he had career highs in hits and slugging percentage, Funk had the opportunity to play in the Cape Cod league — regarded as the highest tier in collegiate summer baseball. The league aims to provide players with fun and an escape from the constant noise that surrounds a collegiate athlete. 

“This summer looked a lot different for me, being able to go up and play a couple weeks in the Cape, which was cool and really dug deep and back to my old roots,” Funk said. “Just getting that feeling back like you’re a little kid. Sometimes you lose that when you’re playing at this level, kind of feels like a job, but I want to get back into that fun.” 

This Pitt team collected only 11 wins in the ACC last year compared to 16 in 2021. The Panthers must create solid relationships in the locker room if they want to stay the course during tiresome times. Funk has high expectations for this year’s squad, especially with the team’s chemistry. 

“I think the energy with these guys is a lot different than it was last year,” Funk said. “This group has really hit it off ever since we started in the fall. I think that carries you deep into the season as you kind of get into a little bit of monotonous, the lull, the travel part of the season. Carrying that good energy, that good atmosphere that the team provides, that’s really going to be huge for us.”

The energy Funk puts into his craft is unparalleled and he carries an interesting perspective on the sport. The senior sets expectations for himself but stays tethered to reality while developing his game during the fall.

“Every day is a different thing to work on,” Funk said. “This is a craft you’re not mastering anything. You’re just continually working to get better every day. “

Junior catcher Jayden Melendez

Melendez transferred from FIU last year, but quickly made his presence felt at Pitt. Melendez fits right into Pitt, bringing a strong work ethic and positive energy to the team.

“I went through a little bit of growing pains at the beginning, but I feel like I’ve made that adjustment, whether it be in the classroom on the field or just kind of in life,” Melendez said. “I felt like I’ve become acclimated as a yinzer.” 

The newly formed yinzer arrived at Pitt and came up clutch countless times. Last season, Melendez hit a grand slam in the eighth inning against California. The junior also went 2-4 against rival Notre Dame, and then he hit a double and went 3-5 in the ACC tournament. 

“At the beginning of the year I was getting in and out of reps,” Melendez said “Throughout the year I wanted to stay the course and trust God. I talked to my parents and they were big on me taking advantage of my opportunities. You never know when it’s going to be your last one.”

Melendez’s brother, MJ, plays for the Kansas City Royals in the MLB. The junior catcher says that his brother has helped guide him through his baseball career.

“[MJ] has been very vocal throughout his professional career,” Melendez said. “He went through a year where he struggled a little bit, I believe he had a sub .200 [batting average] and the next year he ended up leading all of the minor leagues in home runs. That’s just one of many ways that baseball is a funny game where you run into some blocks.”

Jayden has big footsteps to follow, but if his attitude is any indication, he’ll do just fine.

About the Contributor
Tommy O'Connor, Staff Writer