Wildcats' mission: Make contact
By Charles Whisnand
Appeal Sports Editor
LAS VEGAS - The Western Nevada baseball team is expected to be a better
contact hitting team this season and it's not fair to pass judgment on the
Wildcats' opening weekend.
But the Wildcats will certainly have to do a better job of making contact
for the rest of the season than they did this weekend. Granted, the Wildcats
have surely seen little live pitching this early due to the poor Northern
Nevada weather. And the Wildcats also faced a talented South Mountain
Community College (Phoenix) pitching staff.
Still, the stats were somewhat ugly. After Sunday's game was rained out, WNC
had more strikeouts (23) than hits (18) in 23 innings over the weekend.
WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said he was pleased with his team's approach at
the plate when the Wildcats beat South Mountain 16-6 on Friday as WNC's
hitters simply stayed patient and allowed South Mountain's pitching staff to
But WNC's hitters found out there's a fine line between being disciplined
and not aggressive enough on Saturday when the Wildcats were swept in a
doubleheader against South Mountain, 2-1 and 6-4.
Wildcat batters rarely swung at the first pitch and found themselves behind
in the count for most of the two games.
Baserunning should also be a strength of this team. On Saturday there were
mixed results. Baserunning was part of WNC's downfall in its 2-1 loss as it
had three runners thrown out.
But baserunning was also a key in WNC scoring four runs in the first inning
of the nightcap. On Brian Barnett's two-run double, Lance Ray's heads-up
running was a big reason why he scored from first.
Barnett's double just went over the center fielder's head in deep
center field. Knowing the center fielder couldn't throw him out if he had to
return to first, Ray was well around second when the ball fell and he scored
Barnett then hustled all the way around from second to score on a throwing
error by the shortstop to give WNC a 4-0 lead.
While Sunday's scheduled game with South Mountain won't be made up,
Whittemore said WNC will make up for the lost game by playing an extra game
against Feather River next month. WNC is scheduled to play at Feather River
twice and Whittemore said an extra game will be added, with the schedule
still to be worked out.
Next up for WNC is a four-game series with Pima Community College, beginning
at 5 p.m. Friday at Centennial High.
IMPRESSIVE SIERRA VISTA
Sierra Vista High was an outstanding host on Saturday. The facilities were
in excellent shape for this time of year. There was also wireless Internet
and even a computer set-up in the press box for the media.
As is always the case, Western Nevada had another large contingent on the
road and South Mountain had a sizeable number of fans at the games as well.