‘Burg to the Beach: CWU Baseball preps for California road trip


Brayde Hirai showing off the ball. Photo by Jacob Thompson / Thompson Sports

Deacon Tuttle, Staff Reporter

CWU baseball is going from training in the brisk of Ellensburg to the sun-soaked state of California, as they begin their season on Feb. 3. To start the roughly three-week road stretch, they will be playing the University of Redlands (UofR) and Cal State San Bernardino (CSUSB). 

Assistant Coach Joel Johnson spoke about their team’s progress so far with many returning underclassmen and a young team as a whole.

“There was a lot of guys who got thrown into the fire,” Johnson said. “It’s not that they weren’t necessarily ready for it, but they’re 18-19 years old, playing against 22 year olds. What came from that, I think it’s going to be special down the road.”

According to Johnson, the last month has been marked with assessment and gauging how the players are performing after winter break. 

“Who took care of business? Who’s gaining? Who’s healthy? How are we functioning?” Johnson said. “Those first couple of weeks is more individual based. Now this week as we go, it’s a lot more team oriented in terms of defensive rotations and alignments and situational stuff.

There are a few particulars that the coaching staff are honing in on at practice leading up to their matchups.

“Making sure that when we get down there it’s not the first time we go through our pre-game routine,” Johnson said. “[Even] something as simple as pre-game batting practice, like we haven’t really been able to get onto a field.

Senior pitcher Brayde Hirai said the weather is playing a role in their preparations. Recently, they’ve primarily been practicing at Ellensburg High School. 

“There’s just two batting cages,” Hirai said. “So we do our work on the side and try to get in what we can. So hitting, throwing live, and inside of the cages.”

However, in the last week, the weather has been heating up. That means the team has had opportunities to practice, even if it is slightly unconventional and at a reduced time of an hour and a half.

“We’ve been able to be outside on the turf field, playing baseball on a football field. So, it’s different,” Hirai said. 

In 2022, CWU played CSUSB five times and accumulated a record of 2-3 against them. UofR is a new challenge. 

“I think [UofR] is a good matchup for us, especially beginning of the year,” Hirai said. “I mean they’re outside the whole time and stuff like that, but the game doesn’t change.” 

Head Coach Desi Storey said he is looking forward to the way his team responds to adversity. 

“I want to see our guys take the field like they’ve been there before, not get the big eyes,” Storey said. “You’ve played the game before, play with maturity. Understand we’re going to make mistakes. What are you going to do to overcome those mistakes?” 

Storey said the biggest takeaway he wants from the first week is a focused mindset. 

“We got to grow in this and we got to understand every game is a new game,” Storey said. “Now, if we come home 4-0 I’m gonna be happy as hell.”