CWU heads to Oakland for series

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CWU freshman catcher Jesse Unger takes batting practice during an indoor sessions.

CWU freshman catcher Jesse Unger takes batting practice during an indoor sessions.

Xander Fu

Xander Fu

CWU freshman catcher Jesse Unger takes batting practice during an indoor sessions.

Simo Rul, Staff Reporter

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The CWU baseball team had a tough start to the season, going 1-3 in a four-game series against California State University East Bay.

Next up for the Wildcats is another trip to California to take on the Academy of Art in Oakland. Last season CWU took two out of three games against the Urban Knights.

This is a big series for the Wildcats, and it will benefit them.

“I think to win the series would be huge,” head coach Desi Storey said. “But we need to make improvements — that’s probably more important than anything, is continuing to make improvements.”

Going into this series, the offense and pitching has to be better than they were in the first four games.

“Play to our ability, head hunt, attack guys both defensively and on the offensive side be aggressive, and don’t take any fastballs, and what not early in the count,” senior outfielder Coner Plaisance said.

Levin will get the start in the first game. A big thing for the Wildcats will be to win that first one then think about the second and take it game by game, Storey said.

As the season goes on, there is always room for improvement and the more game time there is the better it will be for them.

“We got really good hitters, we just didn’t hit the ball that well this past weekend,” Levin said. “On the mound we got some young guys who struggled to find the zone a little bit and maybe [tried] to do a little bit too much. So as they get settled in and get use to throwing the ball, get use to relying on their defense behind them, I think we’re going to be smooth sailing once everybody kind of gets in the rhythm.”

There were some positive performances: Plaisance hit two home-runs and two RBIs, Levin threw seven shutout innings, getting the 1-0 win on opening day, and James Smith III hit a grand slam.  

Still the Wildcats did not bat the way they expected to.

“On [the] offensive side we got to be more aggressive,” head coach Desi Storey said. “First time out seeing live pitching, I thought we were a little tentative, we weren’t on time, our timing was off.”

The Wildcats only scored eight runs in the opening four games.

“We didn’t look all that bad this past weekend. Definitely have the talent,” Plaisance said. “We just need to bring it all together and play as a team. Our offense needs to pick it up a little bit, but I think we’re looking pretty good.”

Plaisance had himself an opening series hitting .462 through the first four games.

“I just try to maintain confidence and stick with my approach,” Plaisance said. “Go up there and relax, and keep trying to get on base, and keep on trying to score runs for the team.”

Levin has a chance to impact both sides of the ball.

“I realize the responsibility having game one on the mound,” Levin said. “And then after that game, I don’t get to sit and watch my teammates play, I’m out there playing first base the next three games.”

There definitely are lot of nerves to it and there aren’t many breaks for Levin, but he likes the challenge.

“I like the pressure in there, but there is a lot of pressure, you know pitching game one and then being the four hold the next few games,” Levin said. “I feel like if I do well, it gives our whole team a chance to do well.”

A big thing going forward is to get hits often and keep batters off base.

“We’ve got to get more consistent through the lineup, and on the pitching side we got to throw strikes,” Storey said. “That’s when we got in trouble last weekend — we were pitching behind or walking guys.”

Storey also mentioned that with it has been tough having to practice indoors because of the snow, but they have to find ways to get through that.

“I think that’s definitely tough to do, unfortunately our field is covered in snow, so we’ve been inside,” Plaisance said. “This last weekend kind of helped us shake the rust off, kind of get back into it and get the feel for the game once again.”

It is not the same to practice indoors but play games outdoors.

“It’s just different seeing the ball, lighting is all different,” Levin said. “We were cooped up in here and then first time outside is in an actual game, so you could tell the guys were a little jumpy at the plate, swinging at some pitches maybe we shouldn’t of.”

After the series against the Academy of Art, the Wildcats will come back home to open up the season in Ellensburg against Saint Martin’s University.

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CWU heads to Oakland for series