The Daily Evergreen

WSU club baseball off to a strong start in its inaugural season

RYAN SIEFKES | Evergreen reporter

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Starting a brand-new club is not an easy task, but the success coach Dylan Haugh of the WSU club baseball team has had is impressive.

Haugh, a junior transfer student from Grossmont Community College in San Diego, was willing to take on the tough challenge.

“I consider myself someone who likes to lead and make decisions so it wasn’t too hard for me to want to do this,” Haugh said.

Haugh said his love for baseball made it worth it to jump through all of the hoops needed to start the club.

Some of those hoops included meeting the guidelines for the National Club Baseball Association, paying the $600 startup fee and receiving accreditation from the University Recreation Center in October. 

Some of Haugh’s friends at Northern Arizona University started the first club baseball team there, which gave Haugh the motivation to do the same at WSU, giving him something to fill his free time.

Haugh’s determination to get all the steps completed to start a club team paid off.

“Nobody in the NCBA had started up a club in the end of the fall and played in the spring,” Haugh said.

While the majority of the fall was spent getting the team together and practicing, it was able to play in two games by the end of the fall semester.

Starting the team went fairly sound for Haugh. In January, he ordered two sets of jerseys from Rawlings, however, only one set of jerseys were shipped to the team.

Haugh knew that the head coach for the varsity baseball team, Marty Lees, followed the club baseball Twitter account, so Haugh reached out to Lees for help on getting jerseys.

“At the time, the baseball team was on the road in Texas, but Lees showed support for the club team and wanted to help the team get jersey’s,” Haugh said.

Lees donated the 2015 crimson jerseys to the team, which helped the team look more official out on the field.

Even in its inaugural season, the team was able to show the talent that WSU has to offer from its former high school players. The team started off hot with an (8-1) record, which ranked the Cougars No. 20 in the country in the NCBA.

Recently, the team has been struggling to close out games, losing games that they had the lead in, but hopes to finish the season with a winning record.

“We’ve had the lead in every loss, so it’s kind of first-year struggles, learning on a curve real quick,” Haugh said. “We would like to end the year with a winning record, we are currently (9-8) but would like to get at least 15 wins.”

The Cougars compete in the Northern Pacific Conference and play Eastern Washington, Montana, Western Washington, Idaho, Gonzaga in their division and occasionally play Oregon, Washington and Oregon State.

The team currently has enough players on the roster, however some of the main starting players have been removed because of injury, along with some players being ineligible due to deficient grades.

With these issues, the depth of the team has taken a major blow, which can be attributed to some of the shortcomings on the field.

Even with some early growing pains of the team, sophomore pitcher and second baseman Aaron Scofield likes what he sees in the team.

“The thing that stood out most to me in just about every game was the fact that we put up a good fight. This is a first year ballclub and what I’ve seen this year, I think we have a great chance of winning our division next year,” Scofield said.

Club baseball offers the opportunity for die-hard baseball players a chance to keep on playing. Before this year, there were no opportunities for baseball players to play at WSU unless they made the varsity team as a walk-on.

“I have been playing ball since I was a little kid and never really thought about it coming to an end and once college came around I realized that it wasn’t a top priority anymore, however not playing anyone was killing me,” freshman shortstop Jahden Nguyen said.

Club sports can be a facilitator to those who just want to keep playing the sport for fun or as a stepping-stone to play at a higher level. In 2015, the University of Virginia won the NCAA College World Series with some of its starting pitcher coming from its club team.

Wrapping up the year, and heading into next season, the team looks to be in good shape. Team chemistry can sometimes be difficult to obtain, especially when the team is new, but can be a key to having success. It looks as if the team has been able to do just that.

“We all get along and treat each other as if we are all the same age. We are always getting together to hangout when we aren’t playing,” says Nguyen.

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WSU club baseball off to a strong start in its inaugural season