Baseball team sets high expectations

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Baseball team sets high expectations

Story by Chad Mullens, Writer

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After winning just six games during 2013 season, the Baker University baseball team is already halfway to six wins in 2014.

The Wildcats have a 3-7 record so far this season, facing tough competition in each series.

NCAA Division II Rogers State University Hillcats and a top 10 NAIA program in Sterling College are among some of the elite competition the Wildcats have played.

Senior captain and center fielder Josh Zach believes the experience of playing quality teams gives the younger players a taste of the college baseball atmosphere, preparing them for the team’s conference schedule.

“When you give the new guys experience, it will only help them out in the long run,” he said.

Among the new faces is Cort Brennan, playing in his first season after redshirting last year. Brennan is starting at first base, a position he hasn’t played since third grade.

“It’s kind of weird, but I’m starting to get a feel for it,” he said. “I’m not polished by any means, but I am improving every day.”

Brennan has not only made an impact from on the defensive side, he also had a game-winning solo home run against Wiley College on Feb. 21.

The weather has caused a hectic and sporadic practice schedule for the team, having to field ground balls in a gymnasium and constant batting practice. It also canceled a weekend series with Midland University and a doubleheader with the University of Saint Mary

The Wildcats used these days off to improve on focus areas from previous losses.

“We used the days off to relax, work on the things we needed to,” sophomore Ethan Jacks said. “We want to win a lot of games going forward.”

The Wildcats only wins of the season came from their four-game series with Wiley College. Brennan believes just a few strokes of luck would tell a completely different story record-wise.

“We had really close games with Rogers State, and a few bounces here and there would give us a winning record,” he said. “But even then, we know how good we are, and we’ll be winning games later on.”

Jacks also expressed positivity when discussing the two one-run losses to RSU.

“Our bats have been great, and our pitching is where it needs to be. Our defense has had some slip ups, but it’s still very good,” he said. “If we start jumping on teams early, that would give us a lot of confidence, instead of trying to rally from behind.”

Zach and the other Wildcat leaders have lofty expectations for the team.

“Me and the three other senior captains have been talking about how this is our last go at it, and we have to leave everything on the field, as well as give it our all off the field in order to be successful,” he said. “Our goal is to be top three in the conference and get an automatic spot in the (Heart of America Athletic Conference) tournament, which we know will be tough because every series is tough in conference, but I know we can do it.”

BU is scheduled to return home on March 19 against Missouri Valley College.