Baseball: ‘Hawks finish spring trip 8-2

 

April 2, 2014

By Emily Leclair

The UW-Whitewater baseball team heads into the 2014 season with sights set on the College World Series. The team has already proven to be a threat with an overall record of 10-2 as of last Sunday.

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John Vodenlich

“We focus on our fundamentals; we condition our team based on their pitching and defense, and I think we’re a solid team that way,” head coach John Vodenlich said. “I think we can be a productive team offensively as well.”

The ’Hawks will look to the depth of their pitching staff to lead the team this year. The team has three seniors in its rotation, including senior Scott Plaza, who recorded a 2.65 ERA last season and is expected to be a big contributor according to coach Vodenlich.

The pitching staff has more 90 mph pitchers than it’s had in a long time, Vodenlich said.

The ’Hawks also have an experienced batting line up to help them get runs on the board.

Seniors Jared Fon and Michael Gonzalez, and juniors Mikole Pierce, Kyle Haen and Casey Power are all expected to be back starting on offense for the Warhawks.

The team also can rely on the depth of its bench, especially its younger players, to step up when called up.

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Scott Plaza

“We’re a lot younger for sure, but definitely talented,” Plaza said.

The ’Hawks are currently ranked 14th of 25 teams by D3baseball.com and 11th by the American Baseball Coaches Association.

The team fell short in the NCAA Regional tournament last year, falling to the College of St. Scholastica, 3-2, in 10 innings.

“We want to be in the position to make a run deep into the NCAA tournament at the end of the season,” Vodenlich said. “Right now we’re definitely playing it day by day and trying to improve each and every day.”

The team started its season in Davenport, Fla., for Spring Break, playing 10 games in eight days and coming home with an 8-2 record.

“It was good to finally get outside on an actual field instead of being in the field house,” Plaza said.

The ’Hawks started their break with a win over Oglethorpe University, 5-1. Plaza pitched seven innings, recording 11 strikeouts and no walks.

The team went on to defeat Benedictine University the next day, 11-5 and 17-3, in a doubleheader.

The ’Hawks recorded 35 hits, while scoring 28 runs in 14 innings for the day.

The Warhawks split a doubleheader with University of St. Thomas, losing the first game, 5-8, but winning the second, 7-2.

The team proved its batting order is power-packed against Union College with a 26-11 win. Gonzalez went a perfect 5-for-5 for the day with four doubles and four RBI.

Pierce followed, going 4-for-5, and Fon went 3-for-5. The team recorded 20 hits in the game.

The ’Hawks ended their break with a split doubleheader against St. Olaf College winning the first game 7-1 but falling 0-2 in the second.

The team went right to work when it returned to UW-Whitewater, playing a doubleheader against Ripon College on Sunday.

The game was originally supposed to be played at Ripon, but due to poor field conditions the team ended up hosting their home opener.

The ’Hawks had another successful game in the box with Fon going 7-for-11 with six RBIs. Junior Nick Kuhlman went 3-for-8 with four RBIs, including a two-run homer over the left field fence. Gonzalez also added a strong bat, going 6-for-11 with three RBIs.

The ’Hawks hosted UW-Platteville at 1 p.m. April 1 for the first conference game of the season.

“It’s a very exciting team to watch, and they’re very talented,” Vodenlich said.

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