Western Baseball on a Roll
Missouri Western's baseball team continues to show determination with an eight-game winning streak, and they hope to add another win against Fort Hays State University Last season, two games against Fort Hays were canceled, and the Griffons met the Tigers in the first round of the MIAA tournament, winning both games. David Chew expects a win against Fort Hays, but remains cautious. “We expect them to be a good team,” Chew said. “Every year, they have been solid and played us close, and we know we have to come in and play the best of our ability. Currently, Fort Hays is 14-24 in regular season and 11-21 in conference. Despite a losing record, Coach Buzz Verduzco is not taking any chances against the Tigers. “I don’t think they had the season they wanted to have at this point," Verduzco said. "But they have always been good in the league and even though we play them at home, we expect them to be really tough." In MIAA standings, Fort Hays is currently ranked 12th, while Missouri Western is 3rd. The Griffons currently have a solid record of 23-14 and are 19-11 in conference play. Infielder Dylon Koch is prepared for anything against Fort Hays. “I think Hays will be just as tough as any opponent,” Koch said. “The MIAA is a solid conference that has solid competition all throughout the league. If we stick to our identity and play our game, we will be fine against anyone." The season started slow for the Griffons, with three double headers cancelled and a few losses, but they continued to win and put together an impressive record. “For the rest of the season, I expect our team to continue to play as well as we have lately and see how the season unfolds," Verduzco said. "Hoping to qualify for the MIAA tournament at the end of the season." Nothing is official yet concerning the tournament, with Western still having nine more games to play in. The only team who has qualified for the tournament is Central Missouri, with a conference record of 26-6. “Right now, we are focused on the next game and right now, we are playing good ball and doing it at the right time,” Koch said. “When we get to the tournament, we will definitely have as much as an opportunity as anyone.” In the tournament last season, Western defeated University of Central Oklahoma, Pittsburg State University and Missouri Southern State University. The Griffons made it to the NCAA Central Regional, but lost to Southern Arkansas University and Minnesota State University-Mankato. “Even though we have a lot of new players, we have enough returning players and impact players that know what the tournament’s about and how intense it can be,"Verduzco said. I think we will be ready for the tournament and to play our best baseball.” Missouri Western plays Fort Hays in a weekend tournament on Friday, April 25 at the Spring Sports Complex six p.m.