The diamond is open

Clayton Huber, Staff Reporter

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CWU baseball and softball have started preparing for their season openers. Baseball opens their season Feb. 3 at Lewis-Clark State College (LCSC) and softball opens Feb. 2 in Las Vegas against Texas Woman’s University (TWU).

Baseball was selected third in the GNAC preseason poll and finished with a record of 30-23 last year, but lost in the GNAC semifinals. Softball has won two straight GNAC championships and has been selected to win again this year.

Baseball

CWU baseball began regular practices Jan. 3 and practices about six days a week in preparation to open the season. Their first opponent, the LCSC Warriors, won the NAIA World Series last year and have won 19 national championships since 1984. They are seeking their fourth straight title this season.

“They’re a real good team and it will be a great thing for us to face a team that has dominated their league for so long,” head baseball coach Desi Storey said.

Two CWU players, senior pitcher Mackenzie Gaul and senior shortstop Christopher Dalto, were selected to the GNAC All Conference first team in the preseason polls.

Gaul finished the season with a league best 3.18 earned run average and went 6-2 with three shutouts, 72 strikeouts and three complete games. Dalto finished the season with a .316 batting average and five home runs.

“It feels great to be selected to the first team all GNAC and know my hard work is paying off, which is why I continue to keep working and getting better,” Dalto said.

 

Practices consist of individual drills based on positions. For instance, pitchers will work on throwing drills, and hitters will work on batting. Towards the end of each practice, the team gets together and goes through situational drills such as scrimaging.

“Baseball is all about fundamentals and knowing the situation you are in. We go through a lot of situational drills to prepare the pitchers, hitters and defense for anything that could happen in a game,” Storey said.

The winter weather this year has been in the Wildcats favor, which has given CWU a good opportunity to practice outside. Last year at this time there was at least six inches of snow covering the field.

CWU season starts on Feb. 3 and has 10 non-conference matchups before the regular season starts on Mar. 3.

Softball

CWU softball finished their last season 20-8 in conference play and won its third consecutive GNAC regular season championship. The team is bringing back 13 players from the team last year after losing All-American Kailyn Campbell.

“Our team is looking very strong. We have a lot of depth at all positions. Players are working extremely hard and the competition is fierce,” head coach Mike Larabee said. “Our strong points will be our defense, pitching, baserunning and our offense.”

CWU at this point is looking healthy and has no major injuries to start the season.

“Just a couple cases of the flu. Nothing serious at this point,” Larabee said.

CWU will also be without two-time GNAC pitcher of the year Kiana Wood, who helped lead the Wildcats to three championships. CWU is bringing back sophomore Kylie Sweeney who switched between starting and relief as a freshman last year.

“Our ace is still to be decided but our top three right now are Kylie Sweeney, Lexie Strasser and Kayla Smith. We will see how things go in our first tournament in Las Vegas,” Larabee said.

CWU heads down to Las Vegas on Feb. 1 and starts their preseason with a tournament facing TWU, San Francisco State University and Cal State San Bernardino. The Wildcats will then head to Hawaii on Feb. 16 to compete against University of Hawaii Hilo, Hawaii Pacific University and Chaminade University.

“I am really excited to go to Vegas and Hawaii. We get to play really good competition and play in warm weather,” senior center fielder Celine Fowler said. “It can’t get much better than that.”

Fowler played in all 49 games last year, starting 48 of those in center field. She had a .373 batting average and stole seven bases. Fowler was also named to the GNAC All-Conference second team to start the season.

“I am really excited to start my senior season, it’s a bittersweet feeling but [I] want to go out with another championship hopefully,” Fowler said.

CWU baseball and softball are in full swing as they prepare for the season to start Feb. 2. CWU softball heads for warmer weather as they go to Vegas and Hawaii to start their season. Baseball looks to take down the former NAIA National Champ.

 

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The diamond is open