Springing into baseball season

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Kaitlyn Zenner

More stories from Kaitlyn Zenner

UW-Eau Claire’s club baseball team is springing into action

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Springing into baseball season

The baseball club runs through drills during their practice at McPhee.

The baseball club runs through drills during their practice at McPhee.

Photo by Gabbie Henn

The baseball club runs through drills during their practice at McPhee.

Photo by Gabbie Henn

Photo by Gabbie Henn

The baseball club runs through drills during their practice at McPhee.

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Though the piles of snow outside show no indication of the approaching spring, the UW-Eau Claire club baseball season is ramping up as the team prepares for their first game in April.

Ending third in the conference last year with a loss that prevented the Blugolds from making the playoffs, the UW-Eau Claire baseball team is looking to redeem themselves and lengthen their season this year.  

Though last year’s season may not have ended the way the team wanted it to, the UW- Eau Claire baseball team has a good chance of going above and beyond what they were able to accomplish in the past, said Jordan Wollin, a fourth-year athlete who is both coach of and shortstop for the club team.

“This year, (we’re) always optimistic about how the season’s going to go,” Wollin said. “We got a lot of new guys coming in. We got a lot of guys returning, so I’d say the outcome is looking pretty decent.”

Wollin said the Blugolds’ speed in the outfield and middle infielders will help tremendously in having a successful season, though after last year’s top pitcher graduated, Wollin said he also recognizes that the team must work on their pitching in order to have a successful defense.  

“We need a lot of improvement on pitching,” Wollin said. “We need people to hit the zone and we need a little more speed as well.”

The Blugolds’ improvement on their pitching will affect their ability to match up with more difficult teams. As the UW-Eau Claire baseball team heads into their season, Wollin is interested in seeing how they will perform against their tougher rivals.

“I always enjoy playing Madison because they won the World Series last year,” Wollin said. “I like playing the best teams possible. Two years ago, we gave them their only loss, and last year, we lost two games by one run, so it was pretty close.”

The team is looking to continue their work in challenging difficult competition, but in order to do so, Zach Johnson, a third-year center fielder, said he knows they have to focus on keeping their arms at full strength.

“We gotta make sure our arms are healthy because here you’re not playing as much as you did in high school,” Johnson said. “If you go out and start playing, and you’re throwing hard, this is the time where you’d throw out your arm.”

As far as goals go for this season, Wollin emphasized the team’s focus on making it through to the postseason, which they were unable to do last year.

“We have to make the playoffs,” Wollin said. “We have to win most of the series, and we have to be top two in the conference to make the playoffs.”

While the postseason is a critical part of the team’s definition of success, Johnson said he does not want to discredit the importance of staying loose and having fun on and off the field. He discussed the team’s emphasis on maintaining a balance between staying focused and enjoying their time together as a team.

“One of our strengths is definitely our team camaraderie,” Johnson said. “Through anything we just like playing together, we like turning music on. It’s just more of the fun part.”

This year, the Blugolds’ opposition does not solely consist of other baseball teams, Johnson said. They also have to battle the snowy weather that is beginning to invade their season. The team will ultimately need a dry field to play on, and soon, this might mean putting in a physical effort to make sure this happens.

“We’re just hoping that we can get the field ready is the only thing we’re concerned about,” Johnson said. “We’ll definitely have to start shoveling off the field eventually.”

Though the team does have high aspirations for this year, Johnson is confident that if last year is an indication of anything, it’s that the team is ready to further improve upon their athletic talent, especially as they get more new players to join the team.

“Always looking for new guys,” Johnson said. “The more guys the better. I think it’s going to shape out to be a good year. We’re just trying to expand off of last year.”

The UW-Eau Claire baseball team continues to practice and prepare for their first game, which will be held on April 14 at Carson Park.

Zenner can be reached at [email protected]

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