The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

WSU baseball notable performances – Utah Tech

Standouts of Cougs three wins
Cam Magee (left), Nate Swarts (center) and Sam Brown (right) stand along the third base line during the playing of the national anthem prior to WSU baseball’s second game against the Oregon Ducks, March 18, 2023 at Bailey-Brayton Field.

WSU baseball (3-1) began their season with a four-game series against Utah Tech on the road, a series they won three of four to win outright. They opened with a 12-6 win, split the doubleheader Saturday and finished it off with a dominant win Sunday. 

In the four-game set, the offense scored 29 runs and tallied 47 hits, getting constant contributions from top to bottom. While the pitching staff had just one truly dominant game, several arms had strong weekends to open the season.

Four position players and two pitchers had exceptional weekends, with two batters being transfers from other schools for this season. Several players new to the Cougar faithful had breakout weekends, proving that a quick turnaround is possible despite a new-look team. 

“You may not know them and they haven’t played, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good. I’m not surprised but proud of the effort,” head coach Nathan Choate said after Friday’s win. 

Outfielder Alan Shibley 

Shibley got the season started with a 3-for-5 effort with a pair of doubles, adding several other extra-base hits for the rest of the season. Making four starts, Shibley starts the season on a four-game hit streak and a four-game extra-base hit streak. 

In games two and three, Shibley hit his first and second WSU career home runs after failing to hit one in his 32 at-bats in 2023.  He closed out his weekend with a 2-for-4 double and triple showing. 

Finishing the weekend slashing .471/.550/1.176 for an OPS of 1.726, he leads the team in OPS, hits, slugging, extra-base hits and total bases while adding three walks. While dominant at the plate, he also played clean defense in the outfield to back up his pitchers. 

Starting pitcher Connor Wilford 

WSU got the best start of the weekend from their game two starter. Wilford pitched a clean outing, going 6.0 innings without giving up a run for his first win of the young season. He threw the most innings of any arm during the opening weekend, striking out six, walking one and giving up just six hits. 

“Felt good. Gave my team a chance to win and that’s all that really matters,” Wilford said after the game on Saturday. 

His 1.17 WHIP and one walk allowed led starters and his six strikeouts led all WSU pitchers who made an appearance. Behind Wilford, the offense scored four runs in his six innings of work, keeping him comfortable and letting him continue to compete without worry about one hit putting him in line for a loss. 

“[The offense] competes; pitching with a lead is my favorite,” Wilford said. 

Outfielder Casen Taggart 

Hitter number two on the list, Taggart did his work despite coming in as a substitute in two of the four games. Opening day proved to be Taggart’s coming out after playing two seasons at Centralia Washington. 

In game one, he went 3-for-5 with a home run, three RBI and three runs scoring, accounting for a little under half of the run production of the entire team in their dominant 12-6 win to open the year. While he managed only three more hits in the final three games, he got another long ball and finished slashing .500/.538/1.000 with an OPS of 1.538, good for third-best on the team. 

Outfielder Nate Swarts 

Rounding out the trio of outfielders to lead the offense, Swarts had a rest game but still tied for the team lead with two home runs and started the year with a three-game hitting streak. After starting with a decent, not great, 1-for-5 performance on opening day, Swarts went 3-for-5 Saturday and 2-for-4 Sunday to round out the weekend. 

Beyond his two home runs, Swarts got four more hits and drove in four total RBI and finished with 13 total bases. 

Despite his three strikeouts, he slashed. 429/.429/.929 for an OPS of 1.358, one of seven Cougs with at least two at-bats to finish with an OPS of 1.000. 

“Good vibes in the dugout. Just got to keep it going,” Nate Swarts said after Sunday’s win. 

Infielder Cole Cramer 

Opening day was nearly historic for the 6-foot, 1-inch infielder from Linn-Benton Community College. In his 3-for-5 effort, he fell just a single short of the cycle after getting nine total bases and five RBI in the Cougs win. 

The rest of the weekend did not have the same ultra-high-level, high-octane production, he added two more extra-base hits in each game of the double-header.

All said and done, Cramer slashed .294/.333/.765 with an OPS of 1.098. Making four starts in the infield for Choate’s team and playing clean defense, Cramer is playing his way into becoming a focal part of the infield going forward. 

Starting pitcher Duke Brotherton

The sixth overall player and second pitcher standout, Brotherton started the final game of the series and gave the team a chance to win to close out the weekend. Pitching into the deepest part of the game of his college career, Brotherton went 4.0 innings, giving up just one run on three hits while striking out three and walking two.

Just the third start in his three-plus seasons on the Palouse, Brotherton notched win No. four of his career, dropping his career ERA to 6.96 after starting the new season at 2.25. Of all players with at least 3.0 innings pitched over the weekend, his 2.25 ERA ranks third among all pitchers and second among starters.

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About the Contributors
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.
SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor
Sam is a senior multimedia journalism major from Lacey, Washington and the sports editor for spring 2024. He was the sports editor for the 2022-23 school year and managing editor for the summer and fall 2023. He plays the trumpet in the Cougar Marching Band, loves sports and has worked at the Evergreen since fall 2021.