CWU baseball plans for second half success

Senior left-handed pitcher Brayde Harai sending a ball to the strike zone.

Jacqueline Hixssen, Staff Reporter

The CWU baseball team has had a slow start to the season, with a current record of 5-11 in conference play and an 11-22 record overall placing them third in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC).

After losing seven seniors last season, the team has had to rely on the freshmen more than usual.

The team welcomed 14 freshmen this season, which according to head coach Desi Storey, have all had to step up and play key positions for this team.

“I think this team has taken a little more time to find itself,” Storey said. “I felt like there wasn’t going to be a lot of drop-offs even though we lost a lot of key guys … We started having injuries and it changed the complexion of this team going into the season.”

With six upperclassmen out for the season, the team is down its catcher, senior shortstop, starting second baseman, closing pitcher, senior starting pitcher and its returning first team all-conference pitcher, however, the energy the team brings has not changed, according to Storey.

“I think we have a lot of guys with high energy who are showing up day in and day out that keep us pretty motivated,” senior pitcher Brayde Hirai said.

According to Storey, the team is filled with motivated players who are willing to put in the effort to come out on top. Having driven players is key for the team’s success.

 “This group doesn’t give up and they don’t quit,” Storey said. “Even when they’re not playing well, they think ‘We can find a way to win’. It gives them a chance to stay in games even when we’re not playing well.” 

The main issue this team faces is starting on the mound, according to Storey. To take control of the conference, the team must be able to throw unhittable balls. The team started redirecting its coaching tactics to try and reshape the pitchers.

“With pitchers, Coach Kramer has put them into a bullpen tournament, so they are matching up against their teammates,” Storey said. “It’s basically who can throw their spots best, who can throw strikes and hit the spots they need to throw.”

With the internal competition, the team is trying to nail down on their pitchers to enhance their chances of making it to the postseason tournament.

“Obviously, on the pitching side of it, we [have] to get better and keep the ball down and push strikes,” Hirai said.

Hirai believes CWU can turnaround their season due to limiting mistakes.

“The majority of our losses were on ourselves; we beat ourselves,” Hirai said.  

Hirai said traveling to games is one of the main components of being a student-athlete. Being able to stay in the game and in preparation mode while traveling with an entire team can seem difficult. According to Hirai, that isn’t a problem for CWU. 

“Once we get on the bus it’s pretty business-like, pretty serious,” Hiraihe said. 

According to Hirai, the team starts their travel day around 3 p.m., all coming with high morale. After arriving at the hotel they typically do homework, relax and prepare for their games.

The team’s home series finale will be against Western Oregon University (WOU), playing two games on Friday, April 15 and two games on Saturday, April 16.