Feature: The college baseball journey


Willy Coborn, Journalism Student

With winter coming to an end and spring on the horizon, spring sports are ready and starting up again. The opening day for division one baseball was on February 16th. However the University of St. Thomas Minnesota had their first game on February 17th.

The Tommies are a team new to the division one prowess, moving from division three to division one athletics in 2021. This left the team in an interesting situation. In division three, there are no limits on the size of your team, meaning when the Tommies were a division three team they were able to have upwards of fifty guys on their team. However, division one has limits to the amount of players a team can have on their roster, that being thirty-five.

My brother, Duke Coborn, is a pitcher for the Tommies. Being that he was a player when the team was division three, when it was time for the teams to make cuts, he and his other division three teammates were the first ones to be brought up. It’s not like these division three players were bad however. In 2021 Coborn pitched 51.2 innings, reading to a 5-1 record, 3.13 ERA, and a 1.08 fIP as just a sophomore. Although he and a lot of his teammates were extremely serviceable and most importantly reliable, the Tommies coaching staff looked to prioritize the new incoming recruits as they were looked upon as “D1 caliber.”

This was a huge shot in the foot for Duke. “I felt like I did all I could throughout my freshmen and sophomore season for me to be a lock on the new roster. It kinda sucked when I realized that me and some of my close friends on the team would be the ones to be cut.” Lucky enough for Duke, his play on the field did garner himself a spot on the division one roster, albeit in a much smaller role. 

As I mentioned earlier, Coborn pitched to an impressive stat line in his sophomore season, helping the Tommies reach the Division three college world series. However, his role on the team was no longer to be a front line starter, rather a bullpen pitcher who would come into the game and eat innings. “Obviously I want to be a starter and I think I am good enough to be one, but I am just happy that I have a role on the team,” Duke told me. He backed this up with respectable play at the division one level, tossing 38.1 innings to a 4.80 ERA and 1.41 WHIP, with some great showings like his 8 inning outing versus the Golden Gophers.

Coming into the 2023 season, Duke was excited for his role to expand and ready to be called upon as a starter. Unfortunately, just before the start of this year Duke suffered an oblique injury in practice. This set him back in his progressions, but more importantly it stripped him of his starting pitcher role until he proved he was healthy after the injury. Coborn made it back before the start of the year and was able to come into games to relieve against Cal State Bakersfield and Sacramento State. 

That brings us to the current day schedule. The Tommies next game is on March 15th against the top ranked BIG 10 team, the Iowa Hawkeyes. Although Duke has had a successful collegiate career, what people don’t see is the hours spent training, the insane travel schedule, and countless amounts of failures that all helped lead up to this moment. Not to mention that these kids are still college students trying to decide and figure out what they are going to do with their lives in the future. To this point, all the players have had to worry about is getting on the field and delivering for their team and university. However, now that Duke’s college career is coming to an end, there is a little bit more on his, and his fellow senior teammates, plates.