Whitman Wire

Baseball Continues in Positive Direction

Photo by Tywen Kelly

Photo by Tywen Kelly

Tywen Kelly

Tywen Kelly

Photo by Tywen Kelly

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In May of 2015, after the previous head coach stepped down to pursue other opportunities, then assistant coach Brian Kitamura, a Whitman graduate, took over the helm as the new head coach. So far under Coach BK, the baseball team has undergone some pretty major changes in an effort to shift their team culture and work towards cultivating a more successful team. Thus far, they have found that their efforts are paying off.

In addition to a new head coach, the team has brought on a largely new coaching staff. Kitamura has gone to work, doing his best to instill his vision of a winning culture.

According to Kitamura, one of the major mindset changes is an eye for the little things.

“Little mistakes on the field that used to be an afterthought are now the thing that we have at the forefront,” Kitamura said. “We fully expect to do things right 100 percent of the time. Little mistakes becoming big mistakes … means that we are getting better and more consistent. Big mistakes are coming less often … [the changes] have impacted the team in a very significant way.”

Sophomore Captain Joseph Zimmer elaborated on the changes, emphasizing what he sees to be a stronger work ethic.

“I think things were a lot more relaxed with the program last year,” Zimmer said. “I think this year, new coaches have tried to instill a new culture of discipline and hard work. You earn everything you get on the field, and I think that’s been good to see.”


Photo by Tywen Kelly

The transition into the new mindset has not been without its ups and downs.

“[It’s] caused some learning struggles, you could say,” Zimmer said. “But that’s been good, I think. It’s been good for us to go through some tough times, and learn what we’re really made of.”

The changes have proven effective. On a recent trip to Arizona, the team came away from the five-game weekend only dropping one.

“Our trip down to Arizona was awesome, we went 4-1. That’s when we started to turn the tide a little bit. Then we swept Lewis and Clark, which … I don’t think we’d had a road sweep in a while. The first conference series of the year, we won against Willamette. That was awesome because we hadn’t won a series all last year, so to do that was pretty cool,” Zimmer said.

The team has also stepped up their efforts to become involved in their community, something Kitamura appreciates.

“We had close to thirty players at our little league camp this year, which is the most that we’ve had in recent memory,” he said. “We had over thirty middle schoolers and high schoolers come to our clinics this past offseason to help them prepare for their seasons … so we’re really making a lot of progress with our program, and buying into the community, and really being a positive representation not just for Whitman, but also for baseball in the Walla Walla valley.”

Kitamura has hopes that this growing community tradition can continue to generate excitement about baseball in the region.

“All of our players help run it. It’s definitely a part of our involvement in the community … we’ve had very good support from the community, obviously it would be great to get some more fans out at Borleske, and I think that will happen the more that we become engrained in the community,” he said.

It is evident that Whitman Men’s Baseball is heading in the right direction, and will certainly be exciting to watch as they develop this new team culture. With the season coming to a close this weekend, there is still work to be done, but the progress is well in motion.

“We are making great progress as a team, and as a program. It’s exciting to see a lot of our younger players step up and have their hard work pay off,” Kitamura said.

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Baseball Continues in Positive Direction