This archived article was written by: Lindy Bluemel
The baseball program at Utah State University Eastern concludes preseason with a competitive edge in Las Vegas at the Coyote Slug Out and games in Arizona.
Traveling to Las Vegas three times and Thatcher, Ari., once for preseason competition, the USUE baseball team has a 7-10 record.
At the second tournament in Las Vegas, the team faced off against Okanagan College and pulled off their first win of the preseason, 5-1. Battling through the rest of the weekend, they suffered three losses to South Mountain 6-4, Yavapai College 8-4 and Cochise College 7-5.
Trekking to Thatcher, Ari., the team played a four-game series against Eastern Arizona. They split the series winning 5-3 and 3-0 while losing 8-6 and 7-3.
Finishing off the preseason in the Coyote Slug out in Las Vegas, the team saw tough competition from two Canadian baseball programs.
Competing against University of Alberta twice, the team won 9-2 and 10-2. Matched up against Prairie Baseball Academy, they won 7-2, and lost 7-5 and 6-4.
Wrapping up the preseason, freshman pitcher Rigby Butikofer says, “The preseason tournaments helped us out quite a bit. We played some good teams and played well against them. We’ve been able to figure out what we needed to work on and improve which has helped us get to the point where we will be close to the top of our abilities come conference play.”
The team has five pitchers with wins on record: Zach Lundell, Jordan Raab, Jarett Hunt, Chase Stratton and Colton Hill.
Hill has two wins, leads the team with wins and leads the team with most innings pitched, having pitched 15 innings. Relievers Clayton Gessel and Kirk Haney lead the team with ERAs of zero. Starting pitchers are lead by Hill with 1.20 ERA and Rigby Butikofer with 2.6 ERA. Lionel Colon and Raab have the most appearances on the mound.
Leading the team in total at bats, Cole Fossat has 44 appearances at the plate. He also leads the team with 15 hits and 13 runs batted in. Stratton and Lundell come in second statistically both having six RBI’s for the team, Stratton has the only home run so far in the season.
First baseman Austin Pitcher leads the team in total batting average hitting a .371 so far this spring. He also leads the team with a .488 on base percentage.
Coach Scott Madsen said, “The preseason has been a learning experience for us. We have played well at times, but seem to have one bad inning that costs us the game. We have run into quite a few injuries that have kept some players out. “The team overall has improved each weekend in both hitting and pitching We will get to the point where our pitchers can go deeper into the ballgames and get over the hump of the middle innings, that is where most the runs seem to come from.”
The baseball program has learned and started to correct mistakes they discovered while playing these tournaments in the preseason. Madsen states he is confident the team’s hard work will pay off for them as conference play starts on their home field against Colorado Northwestern Community College on March 3 and 4 at the USUE Baseball field on 900 north, 1100 east.