Baseball season is just around the corner

Preseason tourney in Kentucky a success

Kyle Olson, Journalist

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater baseball team is looking to continue its dominant tendencies in 2020. Pitchers and catchers have reported, Spring training is complete, and the first few games of the season are already underway.

The biggest story to follow is,  “The team’s quest for a 13th straight NCAA Tournament bid and a fourth straight WIAC championship, which has only happened one other time in program history (2003-06), according to Assistant Athletic Director Chris Lindeke.     

Whitewater comes into the season with a position in the  NCBWA Preseason Top 25 at number 17. The Warhawks are also projected to win at least 30 games for the 13th straight season, including an assertive projection of 21-3 in the WIAC.

Despite the expectations, the Warhawks take things slowly.

“We don’t speak much about the rankings or predictions. We try to focus on preparing for one game at a time. If we can maintain that focus the rest will fall into place,” said assistant coach Steve Bartlein.

And the slow start may be exactly what Whitewater needs to do going into this season. The team will be trying to fill the roles of the seniors they lost, including three field players, a three-year starting catcher and five pitchers.  They will have five of their top seven hitters from last season returning however, as well as four starting pitchers.     

“Good programs always have opportunities for people to step up and this year is no different. We’re gonna have an opportunity for someone to earn that spot at second, earn that stop at third, and we’re in the process of that right now. And we’re gonna give a lot of people opportunities early in the season,” said head coach John Vodenlich. “The one thing that typically comes with experience is consistency.”

While they are taking the start to the season slow, the team has some long term goals in the back of their heads.

“The unspoken goals have always been to focus on the conference first and win the conference, get a bid to the NCAA Tournament, perform well enough in the NCAAs to get a chance at the College World Series, and then win a National Championship. Those are the four major goals,” said Vodenlich.

Cal Aldridge, last season’s top homerun hitter, has also transitioned into a role as an assistant coach. It remains to be seen how well he picks up this new challenge.

Whitewater Baseball starts its season March 19 in Pensacola, Fla.

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