The Daily Evergreen

WSU students continue playing the game they love

FRAZIER MYER | Evergreen reporter

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The environment for club baseball is different than traditional baseball: There are no concessions, no radio announcers, no photographers and often times, club team managers play on the team.

DJ Mackie, WSU baseball club adviser and WSU alumnus, said club baseball games are unique compared to what you see watching the WSU varsity team.

“It’s not like playing at the varsity level in front of a big grandstand of fans, but it’s still a really big thing to them,” Mackie said. “They’re really passionate about being out there playing ball and representing WSU.”

Mackie has been club adviser since the team started in 2015. The baseball team is one of the many sport clubs Mackie oversees on campus. The adviser’s role is to help manage the team budget, renting university vehicles and reservations.

Mackie explained that the advisers like to allow the students to facilitate as much of the operations as possible, and he is happy with what the team has been able to accomplish.

Mackie said he is impressed with how far the club has come in two years.

Club President and senior communication major Dylan Haugh started the first ever club baseball team at WSU when he transferred from Grossmont Community College in San Diego, California.

Haugh said he felt it was important to start a club team because it was an opportunity to play baseball again.

Haugh said he knew others had interest in starting a club team, he just had to find them and prove that there was enough interest to even begin the process of officially establishing a team and joining a league.

Haugh had eight weeks in during the fall of 2015 to prepare for and ensure that all the guidelines were met to play in the National Club Baseball Association (NCBA). To find enough flyers, Haugh passed out flyers around campus to recruit players. Haugh had to make sure the players would commit and pay the team fees in time so that they could be recognized as a club by the NCBA.

Tony Davila, assistant coach/pitcher and senior mechanical engineering major, received one of the fliers that Haugh passed around.

“I know that when I came here, there was no club team, and it was a little disappointing,” Davila said.

When Davila heard about the team, he wanted to join and do what he could to help the team grow. Not only does Davila enjoy playing baseball again, but he likes how the team has given him an opportunity to meet new people.

While Davila’s main role on the team is coaching, he enjoys pitching when the team needs somebody to step up. He uses this opportunity to gain some experience in coaching, something he hopes to go back and do for his local high school in Seattle.

Davila believes the most memorable moments have come from when the team has played on the road. Last year, the team traveled all over the Pacific Northwest, including a trip to Boise, where they played Boise State’s club team at Memorial Stadium, home of the Boise Hawks, a farm team for the Colorado Rockies.

Davila recalled that the team swept Boise State, and said the players really bonded during the trip and got to know each other outside of baseball.

While the club baseball team usually only plays in front of friends and family, it does not matter to the team members, Haugh said. It is about playing the game they love that makes it worth taking the field.

For the players, it is their chance to stand on that stage for last time following high school or community college.

Davila said that since the team was just getting started last year, the season was rough. However, this year the program is established and more organized.

Although the team is more prepared this season, the Cougars started out in a slum, which may be attributed to the team playing some top-notch competition to open up the season.

The team traveled down to the San Francisco Bay Area over spring break and played in four games. While the team went (0-4), including a loss to No. 3 Colorado State, Haugh thought it was the most memorable road trip for the team and that the players really bonded in California.

In conference play, the team opened up playing Gonzaga and Western Washington University (WWU), who finished at the top of the league last year and look to be contenders to take the top two spots this year. The team went (0-2) against Gonzaga, and (0-3) against WWU in Bellingham over the weekend.

Davila said he thought the team learned from its mistakes and knows what they need to improve on to clinch a playoff spot. WSU competes in the Northern Pacific North Conference, which features Idaho, Gonzaga, Eastern Washington, Western Washington and Washington. The top team from the conference, along with the team that receives an at-large bid, will make the regional playoffs.

Haugh, who will graduate next month, said giving the people who love the sport an opportunity to continue playing was his goal, and he is only disappointed that he will not be able to see what the program will be like in five years.

While the founder of the team will be leaving WSU, Haugh has given the team a strong foundation to build from.

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WSU students continue playing the game they love