Toppel looks ahead to possible final season

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

Dane Toppel is the longest-tenured member of the Eastern baseball team. He is a graduate student this year and is entering perhaps his final season at Eastern this spring.

Toppel spoke with Eastern’s athletic department about the past season for the Panthers and what lies ahead this semester and this upcoming season.

He said that he is happy to be back on the field after having the 2020 season cut short back in March.

“It feels great, after the abrupt end to our season last spring and the good start we got off to, it feels really great to get out here and be with the guys again,” he said.

Toppel also said, despite the strong start the team got off to last season, they are trying to look ahead. Before the season was canceled in March, Eastern was 8-6 and riding a four-game winning streak.

“We try not to think about last year too much, just kind of keep your head down and focus in on this year,” he said. “We’ve got a clean slate. We’re off to a 0-0 start so its really important to get the guys going again and see what we can do.”

Another layer to this year for the Panthers is a larger roster than normal. After the season was canceled, many players elected to take advantage of an extra year of eligibility that became available.

Toppel said that the combination of veterans and young players has created an interesting dynamic this fall.

“I’ve seen a good mix,” he said. “Its a lot of veteran leadership coming in a lot of young talent. It is pretty sweet to see these older guys take these young guys under their wing, and kind of help develop them along with the coaching staff we have here.”

In particular, Toppel said there are a couple of players who he is looking forward to watching develop this year.

“I’m really excited to see what Trey Sweeney can do, a 6-foot-4 shortstop that can really swing the bat, so it’s going to be fun watch him lead us,” he said. “And also Dalton Doyle, look for him to have a big bounceback year after last year, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Sweeney will be back this season for his redshirt-sophomore season after leading the team in hitting in his abbreviated sophomore campaign in 2020.

Sweeney started all 14 games last season, slashing .351/.439/.456 and leading the team in hits (20), extra-base hits (4), RBI (13) and total bases (26). He tied for the team lead with 8 runs scored and 1 home run.

Doyle also played in all 14 games, including 11 starts, last year as a junior. It was his first season with the Panthers after two seasons playing for Jefferson College in Missouri.

Doyle slashed .200/.256/.225 last season and recorded just one extra-base hit.

In his time at Jefferson College, especially as a freshman, Doyle was much more productive offensively, hitting .314 with 13 home runs and 66 RBI in 66 games.

 

Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]