Green Wave adapts to second baseman Jake Willsey’s suspension _lowres

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Tulane infielder Jake Willsey (17) makes a catch in shallow right field in the third inning Saturday, May 17, 2014 at Turchin Stadium. Tulane won 2-1.

Ron Maestri has been working all fall to get more attitude out of his team.

With practice beginning Friday in preparation for the 2015 season, the UNO baseball coach hopes to see that attitude from his players if they are to continue building after a disappointing end to the 2014 season.

After starting the season with a 10-20 record, the Privateers lost 18 of their final 19 games, finishing the season 11-38. Maestri believes an attitude change can be the key to his team starting off new and forgetting the way they ended last season.

“We have to come in and establish an attitude,” said Maestri. “We feel like we have the right mix of guys. We just want to come in and establish what we’ve built in the fall. If we do that, I believe these guys can start turning things around.”

If UNO were to start turning things around, it would have to begin with their veteran pitching staff, which returns five seniors and one sophomore that had 102 appearances last year and only allowed a .274 batting average.

“We’ve got guys that pitched a lot last season,” Maestri said. “Those guys got that experience and that always helps. I think they’re going to be better because of the innings they got last season. We’ve got a couple young guys coming in too. Hopefully, that can be a strength of ours.”

Another key for the Privateers will be the contribution they get from sophomores Hezekiah Randolph and Samuel Capielano inside the batter’s box.

Randolph and Capielano finished in the top-3 in games played, runs, hits and RBIs as freshmen for the Privateers last season, and Maestri said their continued growth will be key for UNO improving on their record from last season.

“They had outstanding years last year,” Maestri said. “We’re just looking for them to take more of that leadership role, but they’re going to have great seasons again this year. We have a lot of confidence in those two guys.”

Maestri said he particularly expects big things from Randolph, because the outfielder had to deal with injury problems during the second half of last season.

“He had a bone chip in his elbow and a torn ligament in his hand,” Maestri said. “I know he would’ve hit even better than he did and he just finished short of batting .300. Thankfully, they’re both healthy and ready for the season.”