Baseball season concludes, team placed seventh in GLIAC

The PNW baseball team wrapped up its first season competing in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, a NCAA Division II conference, with an overall record of 18-25 and a conference record of 8-19.

The baseball team finished seventh out of eight teams in the GLIAC and missed the conference tournament on May 6.

Dave Griffin, baseball head coach, felt a major difference between NAIA and NCAA and sees the opponents in the conference as a hitting powerhouse.

“The difference between those two divisions is the players are stronger in Division II, and the pitchers throw harder.” Griffin said. “Also the teams sit back and play more; as in no bunting and stealing, just hitting.”

With the players being in a tougher level, Griffin applauded his team for performing well in their first year in NCAA, given the great level of competition.

“I think the players responded well to Division II this year.  They weren’t overwhelmed and played with confidence,” Griffin said.

On May 9, Kyle Freel, freshman pitcher, was awarded the GLIAC pitcher of the year for recording 38 strikeouts, and having a low number of hits, earned runs, doubles, and home runs allowed this season. On the same day, two other pride members of the baseball team has earned conference honors. Hunter Thorn, sophomore catcher, and Chad Patrick, freshman pitcher, both earned All-GLIAC honorable mention.

Thorn led the pride in batting average, slugging percentage, hits, triples, and total bases. His five triples also tied for lead in the GLIAC category. Thorn finished the season with 115 putouts and 18 assists and a .971 fielding percentage.

Patrick led the team in strikeouts with 39 and racked up three wins and a save this season.

Freel credits his determination and hard work during the season for his pitcher of the year award.

“To adjust to the level of competition, I really had to bust my butt in the offseason to make sure I was as strong as the competition that we are playing,” Freel said. “I had to get my game better to be able to compete at this level. I also sat and watched every at bat during the previous games before I pitched to learn hitter sequences and to adjust off that to throw better.”

Freel also said the team will take their losses this season to learn and improve for the follow year.

“We learned that we have to remain focus for all 27 outs throughout the whole game. We have to learn to close our games as we lost 9 games by only 1 run. We just have to compete every at bat and every pitch to win the ball games.” Freel said.

Griffin said he is already seeing improvements and hopes to be more competitive next season.

“I think next year’s squad will win more games and be competitive throughout the season.  I feel the guys returning will be better for their experience this year, plus the new guys are more seasoned from playing junior college baseball,”  Griffin said.

Freel said he hopes the team enters playoffs next year.

“I feel with the returning players and the incoming players next year, I feel we will be right in the mix of playoff competition for next year,” Freel said.  

The pride had their series finale against Davenport on May 4-6 and dropped four games against the Panthers to end the season.