Baseball Seniors Reflect on Past, Show Optimism about Future

Cole Anderson

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Will Thompson, ('15)

Photo by Marra Clay

The Whitman College baseball team has come further and amassed more wins in the last two seasons than any Whitman baseball team in the last 40 years. Recording 16 total wins last season was the winningest season for Whitman baseball since 1975, and this season they have already surpassed that tally and have six games to go.

For the seniors on this team, the past four seasons have been a growing, rebuilding process, and to have already recorded 18 wins and be in a position to go above .500 for the season is an accomplishment that the team four years ago might have only dreamed of.

On their two opening road trips, the team went to Arizona and Texas, and they started the season strong with eight wins in 11 games. However, the start of conference play brought a drought, with 10 losses in their first 11 conference games. However, those first three-game series are the toughest of the conference season and potentially of the year, with Pacific Lutheran University, Linfield and George Fox back to back to back.

“We play in one of the best conferences in the nation, and our schedule had us playing three top programs in a row,” said senior Kyle Buckham.

Fortunately, the team was able to record a win against Fox, which spurred an eight-game winning streak, six of which were conference games.

With just Whitworth to go, and sitting with an 18-17-1 record, the team has one big goal in mind.

“We’re looking to be the first team to finish with a winning percentage over .500 in recent memory,” said senior Jimmy Madden.

Photo by Marra Clay

The team’s recent success serves as a great bookend to the careers of this year’s seniors, as they have fought through quite a bit of adversity to get to this point and have quite a lot to be proud of.

“This senior class has been through the ringer to say the least, after beginning our career with two seasons in a row only winning four out of 30-plus games, it forced us to ask ourselves why we are here and how we are going to accomplish what we came here to do,” said senior Cam Young.

Madden echoed similar sentiments.

“I’m most proud of being a part of the class that was able to change the culture of Whitman baseball. The program has evolved from a group of individuals who played baseball into a baseball team. The other big difference is the expectation to win, which has developed,” said Madden.

The change from a five-win team to a conference competitor was tangibly seen early last season. When asked of his favorite memories so far, Buckham reflected on that hot start last season.

“I would say some of the better moments were last year in Arizona when we went 4-2. Just to realize that we were a different, better team that was capable of winning some games after only winning five games our first two years. That was big––to get our confidence up and begin learning how to win,” said Buckham.

The team also defeated George Fox last season at a time they were ranked No. 10 in the nation.

This season has also brought some marquee wins. The team recorded their first win against Laverne in the senior’s time here, something that further symbolized the change they’ve helped make.

Starting to beat teams that had regularly won against Whitman in the past was something that the team, and especially the seniors, could appreciate, since they had been a part of all the discouraging losses up until those wins started to come.

Much of the recent success is a product of Head Coach Sean Kinney as well, who took a discouraged program and showed them what it was like to be successful.

“Since Coach Kinney has taken over before our junior year, the program has improved drastically. We always had the talent. It was just about preparing well. The last two years we have improved significantly in all aspects of the game,” said Buckham.

Going forward, the seniors have optimistic hopes for the team next year and into the future.

“I hope they can continue to build on the chemistry and success we’ve had these last two years,” said Madden.

Buckham saw the recent success as a positive contributor toward gaining talented recruits.

“Moving forward, the program just needs to continue adding quality players. Over half of our current roster is graduating, so a large recruiting class is necessary for the next couple years. Hopefully, with the up-and-coming nature of our team, we can bring in some solid recruits to help out the talented group of players who will still be on the team next year,” said Buckham.

Young was a bit more concise in his hopes for the future of the team.

“Win,” said Young.

He went on to explain what the product of that mentality has been.

“This season has epitomized why each of us made the choice to come to Whitman. We were sold on changing the culture and reigniting the commitment and support for our program due to the abysmal athletic success that had been the norm for many years prior to us. Our team now sits with the most wins of any Whitman team in the past 40 years, and that is a testament to the guys within our program, both coaches and players,” said Young.

Whitman currently sits with an 18-17-1 record heading into their last series of the season, which will take place this weekend at Whitworth.

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