With the regular season at a close, the Missouri Western baseball team will focus on the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) tournament.
Western finished the regular season on a four-game win streak and 24-14 in the MIAA and 28-27 overall. With a 0.632 winning percentage in the MIAA, Western not only locked in a fourth seed in the MIAA tournament, but also earned the right to host in the first round.
Following the four-game sweep of Fort Hays State University on Friday, April 25, and Saturday, April 26, Western learned of their seeding in the MIAA tournament and began to prepare for the first round. Western will play Southwest Baptist University on Thursday, May 1, and Friday, May 2, at Spring Sports Complex, both at 6 p.m.
Southwest Baptist, which earned a fifth seed in the MIAA, finished in similar fashion to Western. Southwest Baptist also finished on a on a four-game win streak, but completed the MIAA season 24-15 and 28-22 overall.
Western and Southwest Baptist have not played yet this season, but did play three games in the 2013 season with Western winning all three games 10-3, 16-6 and Two other games were scheduled, but were ultimately cancelled.
Due to the fact that Western has not played Southern Baptist this season, Buzz Verduzco, head baseball coach, is preparing the best they can.
“We will be doing a scouting report of last season,” Verduzco said. “We will focus on our game and worry about our pitching and games plan.”
Western already has a good idea of Southwest Baptist, and Verduzco will start preparing around that knowledge.
“They have a lot of returners,” Verduzco said. “It’s going to be a tough, tough battle with no guarantees. We need to remember that the game starts out zero zero.”
Western is coming into the tournament as reigning champions after their successful 2013 season, but they are still lacking experience. Following the end of the 2013 season, Western lost numerous players, including MLB-drafted players Michael Schulze and Grant Fink.
In regards the loss of the large number of players from last season, Verduzco is confident that these losses will not affect the play against Southwest Baptist.
“We’ve had a lot of pressure this season from last season,” Verduzco said. “The pressure will not matter much. We are remaining confident, and it should be an exciting game.
The other MIAA tournament games are the top-seeded University of Central Missouri hosting the eight-seeded Northeastern State University, second seeded University of Central Oklahoma hosting the seventh seeded Washburn University and third-seeded Emporia State University hosting the sixth seeded University of Nebraska-Kearney.