Missouri Western’s 17-game win streak may have ended, but the Griffons still pulled out a series win against one of the top teams in the MIAA, University of Central Oklahoma.
Western’s one loss to Central Oklahoma came Friday evening and is the only conference loss it has had in their 15 MIAA games so far this season. The Griffons have been playing outstanding all season both offensively and defensively, and have shown every team they’ve faced thus far why they are sitting at the top of the MIAA.
Westerns coach, Buzz Verduzco, has moved on from the win streak talk and is now looking on the bright side of entering into the middle of the regular season.
“The streak is over, so I can say that now,” Verduzco said. “We’ve kind of gotten past that now but it was a great run. Now as far as how we talk to the team and what that means is, we try to get them to be a little bit more consistent minded during the middle part of the season.”
Top pitcher Brandon Simmons saw that loss as a reminder for how bad losing feels, and motivated the team to not want to feel like that again.
“This weekend was a good test for us,” Simmons said. “[Central Oklahoma] was a very competitive team and they gave us kind of a reality check. Their pitching was outstanding and really shutdown our hitters, who have been on fire. I think this past weekend really put the nasty taste of losing back into our mouth and no one enjoyed it.”
Hitting for the Griffons has been off the charts so far in the first half of their season. Westerns hitting numbers are greater than their opponents in every statistical batting category. Runs have been the biggest standout number, having a total of 221 runs scored, averaging out to the team scoring 9.6 runs per game, which is almost twice as many as their opponents 114 runs, at 4.9 runs per game. Western has scored 10 or more runs in 12 games.
Simmons believes that teams that have such dominant hitting are capable of taking the pressure off of their pitchers.
“Having a lineup such as this one it really makes the game so much easier,” Simmons said. “It makes you not afraid to go out and throw strikes and if you give up a run or two, then our team will come up a get them back. It really makes pitching a whole lot easier in general.”
The key to their hitting seems to be coming from their power. The Griffon big bats have already hit 30 homeruns. With seven players hitting over .400, and five players slugging over .600, it’s hard not to get rack up the runs.
Westerns own Michael Schulze, Kyle Simpson and Bubba Dotson are three of the top four hit leaders in the MIAA.
Schulze and Dotson have been the MIAA hitters of the week these last two weeks. Schulze feels that the good hitting between players motivates everyone to elevate their game.
“We are all just very confident and focused,” Schulze said. “Friendly competition is definitely there between all of us. Once one guy hits everyone wants to hit, so it’s actually a good thing. Offense in baseball is contageous so we all definitely feed off each other at the plate. In the end, we all have the same goal and that is to win.”
Although the 17 game win streak ended, another streak still continues. Schulze is currently on a 16 game hit streak. Ever since the first game cancellation, he has recorded at least one hit in every game.