This archived article was written by: Ryan Nelson
The Eagles have had a lot of changes happen over the year. For one, the Eagles have never been nationally ranked in the history of the baseball program, and for the first time, they received votes from D-II NJCAA national poll. They were ranked in 26th in the nation; but have since dropped from the rankings. This is a big step for this team, especially because this is also their first year going independent rather than part of the SWAC. They took a leap of faith doing this, it could have either hurt them or made them excel.
For starters, since going independent there have not only been team recognitions from around the nation, but it has also brought some national recognition to a few players on the team.
They left the SWAC, according to Coach Scott Madsen, “The main reason for leaving the SWAC is the budget that we had available. We will be competing in a division that is closer to our budget.” Staying within the budget is always a good thing and if this will allow USU Eastern to do so, then it is the right path to take.
As of now, the Eagles are sitting at a winning record 20-19 which, according to Madsen, has not been done in a long time at USU Eastern. They have four games left and if they win those and keep a winning record, it will be the first time that it has been done in over 13 years. Think: the Eagles leave the SWAC, go independent, have a winning record and have been nationally ranked. The team has worked very hard and they deserve it.
Talking with Madsen about some other reason why the Eagles left the SWAC, he said “We have a good opportunity to play teams that have wanted to play us for quite some time.” This is a good thing because it allowed to Eagles to see what other skills were out there, it allowed them to stretch them and show the nation what they really had. Goes in line with what coach said following his last statement, “The opportunity seemed right for us to go at this time, it will definitely benefit more for our team.”
In the Eagles’ first year away from the SWAC and being independent, they have proven to the teams they played that they belong where they are, and not only that, they are there to compete.
Madsen added, “They have proven over the course of the year that this is a great fit for our program.” We have seen it, in their winning record of 20-19. The Eagles are just starting their trip to the top. The season is almost at its end, but that’s not going to be it. “We have a strong group of players coming back to make the core of the team.” We already have had quite a few good players sign for next year.