April 11, 2013
Diamond Bearcats ready for pivotal weekend series
By David Boyce
As much as the rain this week is beneficial to the farmers, those drops falling from the sky were the last thing Northwest Missouri State baseball coach Darin Loe wanted to see.
But the rain came, which meant the two games the Bearcats had scheduled against William Jewell Wednesday were postponed.
To make matters just a little worse, the doubleheader was reduced to a single game at 2 p.m. Friday at home before heading to Emporia State for a three-game series with the Hornets over the weekend.
“When you are playing well, you just want to play,” Loe said.
With just a little break in the weather, the Bearcats heated up last week. It actually started in the second game of a doubleheader against Washburn at home on April 3. Northwest won 9-0.
The Bearcats carried that momentum into a three-game series at Southwest Baptist. Northwest won the first game 16-3 and then lost 14-13, but came back and won the final game of the series 31-7.
“It was a heartbreaker, a walk-off single and we came back 30 minutes later and put up five in the first inning,” Loe said. “I’m awfully proud of our guys in the way they responded by having a short memory.”
Despite a 12-23 overall record and 10-20 in the MIAA, the Bearcats have talent to compete with all the teams in conference.
But every season the Bearcats fight Mother Nature and you know who wins that battle.
As one of the most northern schools in the MIAA, Northwest has the disadvantage of preparing for a season in much colder conditions than many of the teams.
In addition, some conference games are moved because of weather. For instance, the three-game series with Central Oklahoma March 2-3 was moved from Maryville to Edmond, Okla., because of snow.
“That is a battle we face every year,” Loe said. “We go down to Northeast Oklahoma and play them in the first week. We are all indoors and the first time we see the sun on a baseball field it is game day.”
In the first 6 weeks of the season, Northwest spent very little time on its practice field.
“I look back and on April 1st we had a practice and it wasn’t warm that day and it was our fifth practice on our baseball field and we had already played 30 games,” Loe said. “Game day is practice day.”
Loe, though, has a group of players who haven’t tossed in the towel on the season.
“I am proud of our guys,” Loe said. “We are hanging in there, playing games on the road. That positive mindset eventually kicked in and now it has us going in the right direction.”
One player helping the offense turnaround is leadoff hitter is junior centerfielder Ryan Abernathy. In the 31-7 victory over Southwest Baptist, Abernathy not only set the table by going 4 for 5 with a walk, he also knocked in four runs.
In his last four games, Abernathy is 11 for 19.
Other players like outfielder Charlie Krueger and second baseman Cameron Bedard have also been stroking the ball well.
“The guys have really been swinging the bats of late,” Loe said. “Early on, we had to scratch and claw for three or four runs a game.
“Fortunately, guys came out and started barreling up a lot more balls and hitting with more confidence.”
The Bearcats just want a little nice weather to see what they can really do in the last month of the season. A good series at Emporia State could really help Northwest begin a climb up the standings.
“You keep telling your kids to keep working hard and keep a positive mindset, but it is a tough mental grind until you start getting your swing,” Loe said.
“If you win a series against a MIAA team it is a pretty good weekend. That is our goal right now. We are trying to win every series.”
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