As players reflected back on the Missionary baseball team’s four-game series this past weekend in Caldwell, Idaho, battling adversity was the main theme. Following an untimely bye week, in only the second week of a long season, the team traveled to the College of Idaho for two doubleheaders.
In a tight first game delayed three hours due to snow, Whitman came up short, losing by a final count of 4-2. After a disappointing second game ending in a 9-0 loss, the team was ready to bounce back in the next two games. Unbeknownst to most players, the College of Idaho Coyotes wouldn’t be their only opponent. Overnight, multiple players started to feel the effects of the seemingly unavoidable norovirus infection.
“I wasn’t able to play Sunday, and I was too sick to even go to the game, so I did what I could in just encouraging the other guys to do their jobs and trust we’d get the job done. The other guys who were too sick to play were all really supportive,” said sophomore Spencer Hobson.
Despite having multiple key contributors sidelined, the Missionaries were able to rally, taking the third game by a 10-1 margin. On the shoulders of a huge first inning, Whitman jumped to an early 4-0 lead and never looked back. Led by a huge game from junior Aaron Cohen, who got hits on three of his four at-bats, knocking in four runs and scoring two more, the Missionaries showed strength in every facet of the game. Senior pitcher Justin Weeks combined with junior catcher Jonny Lari for a complete game win aided by solid defense.
“I think it really speaks to the close bonds within the team. It shows that it really doesn’t matter which nine are going to show up on that starting lineup but that we’re all playing for each other, and for Whitman College. It’s an all-around group effort,” said junior Cam Young.
The Coyotes took the second game of the day to win the series. Whitman’s win earlier in the day snapped an 18-game losing streak against the strong NAIA opponent and showed resilience of this year’s revamped team.
Tough wins on the road could become the story of the Missionaries’ season this year, with only four home series scheduled out of a total 12, including the four-win road trip the team got back from two weeks ago.
Adversity is nothing new to the Missionaries, and the team seems poised to translate all the hard work thus far into more strong performances away from home. In the coming week, the team will be nursing lingering health problems while preparing to set the tone for their regular season when they open league play at University of Puget Sound this weekend.
“The overall attitude so far has been a central focus on building team morale and camaraderie in an interest to use each others’ energy, given a constant absence of a home crowd. That’ll be a big focus for us this season,” said first-year pitcher Robert Maislin.
The Missionaries’ record stands at 5-5 and their first home game will be on March 23, a doubleheader starting at noon.