COLLEGE: WNC gears up for home opener |

COLLEGE: WNC gears up for home opener

Darrell Moody

Western Nevada College celebrated a victory of sorts when it was able to practice for the first time on its own field in nearly a month Tuesday afternoon.

The Wildcats, 7-9, open Scenic West Conference play Friday against Colorado Northwestern, 1-9. The teams, weather permitting, will play back-to-back doubleheaders. Action gets starts at noon each day.

“Last weekend was the first weekend we hadn’t played,” WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said. “We haven’t practiced at our place since I think Feb. 3.”

Whittemore said he and the team spent 10 hours and $500 getting snow removed from the field to get ready for this week’s conference opener. Whittemore said its relatively simple to push the snow off the field, but it’s another story to get the snow over the 6-foot fence.

“This couldn’t have turned out any better,” Whittemore said. “We had a bye. With the weather we had last week we could have missed some conference games altogether.”

Colorado Northwestern has been the Scenic West doormat ever since WNC came into the Scenic West Conference.

The Spartans are currently 1-9, breaking their losing streak recently with a 6-1 win over Colorado State. Like everybody else in the Scenic West, weather has made it tough to get games in. The Spartans are hitting just .239 as a team, but the pitching has struggled with a team ERA of 6.34.

Adam Thompson is the Spartans’ top hitter at .365, while Robert Padgett is at .353. Pitcher James Sanchez has Colorado Northwestern’s only win. He’s 1-1 with a 2.30 ERA. Tyler Nelson is 0-2 with a 2.57 ERA.

Whittemore said you can’t take CNCC lightly.

“I remember they eliminated Southern Idaho from the playoffs at Southern Idaho,” Whittemore said. “In 2008 when we lost the regular-season championship by a half game, we lost a regular-season game to Colorado Northwestern.”

Like Colorado Northwestern, WNC has been struggling at the plate. The Wildcats are hitting .215 entering the conference opener. Only two starters, Kevin Taylor (.340, 2 HR, 10 RBI) and Connor Eppard (.304, 1 HR, 3 RBI) are over .300. Newcomers Beau Day (.280, 11 RBI) and Sean Potkay (.271, 1 HR, 6 RBI) have been consistent.

The biggest disappointment offensively has been Brooks Klein, who signed to go to University of Nevada next fall. Klein has struggled mightily. In 13 games, 11 of which have been starts, he is 1-for-32, including nine strikeouts.

“We’ve done a nice job of putting the ball in play,” Whittemore said. “In past years when we’ve struggled out of the game too many strikeouts has been the culprit. I have confidence that coach (Aaron) Demosthenes will get us back on track and turn it around.”

Whittemore plans to send out a rotation of Teryn Smith (1-0, 1.54), Andrew Woeck (1-1, 3.18), Brandon Jackson (0-3, 2.41) and Chris Garrison (1-2, 3.32).

Whittemore said that Smith has been bothered by some arm soreness, and if he can’t go Tim Peterson (1-0, 2.70) would take his place.