Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Vodenlich and company aim to improve

American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame Inductee John Vodenlich walks back to the Warhawk dugout after his 701st win.

The sounds of umpires, bats clanging, and intro songs are coming right around the corner here in Whitewater, as the spring sports are just around the corner. The UW-Whitewater baseball team has started practices for their upcoming season, one in which they are hoping to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing the tournament for the first time since 2007.

With that said, head coach John Vodenlich and company do not see last year as a failure and are looking to continue their improvement into the 2024 season, with most of the team still intact from last year.

“There are only 20 percent of Americans in America that won 30 games like we did,” Vodenlich stated. “We try to put into perspective that it was a very strong year for most programs. However, we went through a stretch where we went from one win to seven losses in a two-week span. We started looking at this next season with a very positive mindset because we were in that 20 percent that did win 30 games.”

Players also share the same sentiment as Vodenlich. That is, being excited for the 2024 season to start and capture the success that they were looking for and had during several points last season.

“This year, we’ve worked really hard on continuing to build our team culture,” Darryl Jackson, a junior from Milwaukee Rufus King, said. “We feel like we have gotten a lot closer as a team and are truly having fun through the practices we have had thus far. Last year, we were a lot tighter; this year, we are trying to play a bit looser and have fun.”

One important aspect of this 2024 team is that they have stayed together. Most of the team remains from last year’s squad, and that is a big plus to have heading into this year.

“In areas where we don’t have the same players from last year, we have made calculated moves in order to improve in certain areas,” Vodenlich claimed. “We feel really good about being able to go into this season with more of the questions answered… We feel pretty good about knowing what we are going to go into this season with and what kind of lineup we will put together.”

“The young guys are starting to step up,” Jackson said. “Through our first scrimmage, it was insane how good our team can be. We have all the talent, and now it’s all about building that connection as the season starts and progresses.”

One thing that many have pointed out is how late the conference schedule opens for the Warhawks. Their first few games are in Texas and Florida, against teams that will have already played about ten games. That isn’t stopping Vodenlich from being excited about the challenges and tribulations this squad will face this year.

“These teams are quite a bit ahead of us because of the weather,” Vodenlich said. “We’re excited about it. We are playing really good competition.”

“I love the competition and playing against some of the best teams in the country,” Jackson said. “I just love building the connection and the bond with the guys on these trips because that’s where we go from being good friends to brothers. I love these trips so much.”

The Warhawks open their season Feb. 29, when they will face off against Trinity (Texas) for four games. Shortly after, they will travel back down south to Florida, where they will spend time going against the likes of McMurry, Carroll, Birmingham-Southern, and many others. The Warhawks will open conference play at home on March 29 against UW-Stout.

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About the Contributor
Mason Thompson, Men's Sports Journalist

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