Baseball Seeking NWC Title

Susanna Williams, Staff Reporter

With the season already having begun, the baseball team has high hopes to take the conference title this season. Head Coach Brian Kitamura took over in 2015 after five seasons as head Assistant Coach, and instantly things started to turn around for the team. In his first season he doubled the win total, and the following year in 2017 the team finished with a season that ranked as the second-highest win total since 1982.

The team took a preseason trip to Southern California, where they were able to get some early success to boost confidence going in to conference play.

“We’ve had every player working their tail off to be the best they can be. Our recent games in California allowed us to get our feet wet and showed us our potential to be a top tier team in the Pacific Northwest conference,” said first-year Tristan Kalnins.

While things have started slow for the Blues’ conference record (losing 3 out of 4 conference games thus far), senior catcher Jasper Crusberg is hopeful that they will be able to turn it around as the season progresses:

I think we have started a bit slow but I think that is to be expected early on and with some of the key contributors we have lost from last year. I believe our team feels if we continue doing what we’re doing, things will start to turn around for us,” Crusberg said.

In regards to goals for the season, both Tristan and Jasper expressed that the team’s goal for this season was to win the conference championship.

“We each challenge each other trying to reach our max potential. We hope to grow more as we learn more about our strengths and weakness against each team and learn how to use what we learn in order to win a conference title,” Kalnins said.

As a right-handed pitcher, Jasper also expressed that the pitchers individually were all hoping to have a 66 percent or greater strike percentage. They hope to achieve this through the work they have done in the off season, with individual workouts catered to their specific positional needs.

“We’ve spent countless hours on the field and in the weightroom. We’ve had a lot of players with injury in the past so one of our main goals has been to stay healthy and I think the specific individual workouts have definitely helped. Individually, I’ve been practicing yoga to maintain flexibility after recovering from a high school shoulder injury,” Crusberg said.

Finally, seniors Joseph Zimmer, Jasper Crusberg and Anthony Lim were able to speak to the drastic improvements that have occurred over the last couple of seasons.

“Our team has raised the overall expectations and redefined what success means for Whitman baseball. In years past there was not much talk about winning, and now it’s what we expect to do every time we take the field,” Zimmer said.

“We as a team have worked very hard to create a new team culture. I strongly believe that we have drastically improved the team culture compared to when the senior class came in as first-years. It’s something we all take pride in and appreciated the growth and change that we have developed within the program,” Crusberg said.

Lim echoed that hope. “To continue that trend and pass the torch to the younger guys so that it can continue for years to come [would be great].”

The Blues will be playing their next home games at Pacific University Feb. 24 and 25, playing a double header on Saturday (5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.) and a single game at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday.