The Griffons are at third base, so to speak as they prepare to play the next to last game of the MIAA regular season against the number one team in the MIAA standings, the UCM Mules.
“I know they are going to be a well-coached disciplined team, I am excited for the challenge of playing [the Mules] in their house. All pressure is off and it is time for us to go play some ball,” junior outfielder Ryan Degner said, “we are in a good situation, but we need to continue to get better like we can.
The Mules have clinched a spot in the MIAA tournament as they sit in first place out of the fourteen collegiate teams competing this season. They currently sit at a 29-12 record overall and an impressive 26-6 in MIAA play.
The fact that UCM is in first does not seem to have a negative effect on the Griffons and they plan on playing the game as they always do.
“We prepare for every team just the same as the last. We just go out and play baseball like we know we can. If we play our best and still lose, that’s just baseball,” Tyler Sanders said.
Junior outfielder Hunter Weiss feels that the Mules are an even match up for the Griffons
“UCM is the top team in the league right now. They are similar to [the Griffons] in that they pitch extremely well and play great defense. They move their runners and have timely hitting in offense”
The Griffons seem to be on a roll as they swept Pittsburg State and are now on an eight win streak and have won 15 of their last 19 games. Western sits at a 23-14 overall record and are 19-11 in MIAA play.
The Griffons are ranked third in the MIAA standings and have no intentions of slowing down now that they’ve picked up momentum and Weiss has a positive outlook about the rest of the season and is confident in the abilities of his teammates.
“We struggled early in the season but we are clicking on all cylinders now and we’re going to take that positive momentum into the UCM and Fort Hays series and then into the playoffs. Our mindset going into every series is to win at least three out of four games and play the best we can as a team”
The “number one” attached to UCM raises the bar for the Griffons as they prepare to face their opponents at their house. But that does not seem to have an effect on the level of preparation and metal strength the team possesses.
“Since UCM is in first, this weekend has a little more of a magnitude to it. But, we are still going into it with the mindset that if we play up to our capabilities the wins will take care of themselves,” Weiss said.
As the season has continued forth the Griffons have learned the importance of unity and teamwork and as the season comes to an end , Degner looks to the future.
“I am privileged to wear the Griffon logo and represent the school. As it gets near to the end all we can focus on is each day,” Degner said, “We have a chance to get better and finish the season with a bang”
After the UCM series the Griffons will take on Fort Hays state and shortly there after the MIAA tournament will begin. Junior outfielder Trevor LaHonta looks forward to the tournament.
“Being so close to the end of the season it is kind of strange, I feel like as a team we are just getting our stride to where we want to be but it is also a good thing with the conference tournament coming up. I hope we can go far for the seniors this year because we’ve been through so much as a team this season.
Due to forecasted rain on Thurs. Apr. 17, The Griffons will head to Warrensburg, MO to play UCM on the weekend of the 18th. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.