Warm winter proves beneficial

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Warm winter proves beneficial

Clayton Huber, Staff Reporter

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This time last year, Ellensburg was covered in snow and most days were below freezing. With the weather being significantly better this year, the CWU baseball and softball teams are taking advantage of being able to practice their preseason outside.

 

Softball

One of the teams reaping the benefits from the favorable winter is CWU Softball.

Mike Larabee, head coach of CWU Softball, has said that being able to practice outside has given the team an opportunity to work more on their cuts, getting more ground balls on the dirt and fly ball communication.

Softball, in addition to track, rugby and baseball, use the field house inside Nicholson Pavilion for practices when the weather is bad. The field house has batting cages and a bright red rubber floor, but is smaller than an outdoor field.

We have had great success the last two years coming out of the field house without being outside. We can get a lot of work done in the field house to prepare us for success,” Larabee said.

CWU Softball has won the GNAC Conference the last three years despite the harsh winters, and this year they were named as one of the top contenders for their fourth GNAC title.

They are currently 6-4 in preseason and have won three of their last four games.  Softball played tournaments in Las Vegas and Hawaii to start their season.

“[We] only made two errors in the last four games so we are making great strides in that area,” Larabee said. “After the first two tournaments, the starting lineup is shaping up quite well.”

CWU Softball conference play starts March 10 with their first home game of the year against Montana State University Billings.

“[Our] team and coaching staff are looking forward to the start of our GNAC season on March 10,” Larabee said. “It is going to be very competitive in conference play this year which makes it even more exciting.”

 

Baseball

CWU Baseball often has to practice their preseason inside too, as their field is dirt and can’t withhold a lot of snow and rain. However, with the recent nice weather, the Wildcats have been able to practice outside for the entire winter.

“We like to take advantage of the sun [to work] on fly balls; how to properly shade our eyes and not let the sun beat us,” head coach Desi Storey said.

When CWU does have to retreat to the field house, it is difficult to prepare for games because the field house is significantly smaller in size than the actual field.

“The most beneficial thing about being outside for pitchers is being able to long toss. When we’re inside we only have about 120 feet to throw so when we’re outside we’re able to do that,” senior pitcher Mack Gaul said.

Last season Gaul was GNAC Pitcher of the Year and had to tough out the snow for most of the season.

Another advantage to practicing outside is that the players can get used to the sun by learning how to properly shade their eyes and also work on fly balls, according to head coach Desi Storey.

CWU is currently 5-5 this preseason and opens at home on March 10 against Concordia University.

“I am really excited to play at home and hopefully have some beautiful Ellensburg weather [next] weekend,” Gaul said.

 

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Warm winter proves beneficial