WNC takes on arch-rival Southern Nevada in key Scenic West match-up

In the world of college sports, games against in-state opponents always seem to have a little more fire to them.

Players try a little harder, run a little faster and tend to take it to a higher level.

But the talk about the Western Nevada and Southern Nevada baseball teams having a rivalry is something the coaches are trying to avoid as the two prepare to play their second series of the season beginning at 1 p.m. today at John L. Harvey Field.

"They've tried to play that angle, but I don't really buy into it that much," WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said. "I don't think it has anything to do with in-state versus in-state or Vegas versus the North. For me it's just the Scenic West and trying to be the best. If Southern Idaho had won the last two titles then that would be who we'd be gunning for."

But the Wildcats' main talent pipeline is in Las Vegas, the Coyotes' backyard. The Wildcats have 10 players who come from the South and many of them have former teammates and former cross-town rivals on the CSN roster. Some those relationships go as far back to Little League. The added incentive of not just beating your in-state rival, but having bragging rights over your friends is enough to qualify this series as rivalry.

"I think it adds to the rivalry because you don't want to lose against your friends," said Travis Feiner, who went to Cimmaron Memorial High School and wasn't recruited by CSN. "If you go to this school, it's like, 'I could have been there.' You just don't want to lose against your in-state rival."

So far, the Wildcats have the upper hand in the series, at least record wise. They hold a 17-10 record over the Coyotes in less than four complete seasons. But Whittemore is quick to remind anyone that it is CSN who has won the last two Scenic West Athletic Conference titles and that the two championship signs hanging in Harvey Field (2006 and 2007) are partly because CSN had to forfeit 27 games in 2006.

"They were just the role model," Whittemore said. "They won a national championship in their fourth year (2003), their overall winning percentage was around 80 percent, so I knew if we were ever going to have a chance to compete in this conference we were going to have to find a way to be as good as they were.

"They're the gold standard of the Scenic West. I mean, they're the Yankees and the rest of us our aspiring to catch up with them."

The flattering comments could be a coach's way to keep the Coyotes from getting bulletin board material, or because Whittemore spent some time watching them before building his program.

"D.J. came in and had a year or so to watch and catch a feel of what types of players you need to get to win in our league and he's done a nice job recruiting," CSN coach Tim Chambers said. "And with the coaching staff he has, the kids are always prepared and always play hard."

The players also have a feel for each other. WNC pitcher David Carroll played high school ball with CSN pitcher Kenny McDowall at Spring Valley and played on the same Little League team with Tomo Delp. Carroll said the friendly trash talking has already begun.

"It's a big series just because I played Little League with a lot of guys on the team and am friends with a lot of them," Carroll said. "It's always good to beat people you know."

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