Slow start is nothing new for Western Nevada Wildcats |

Slow start is nothing new for Western Nevada Wildcats

Justin Lawson
Nevada Appeal Sports Writer

The early season has not been kind to the Western Nevada College baseball team.

It has endured a lackluster start (3-6) behind an offense that has produced just one batter hitting more than .226 and four position players fielding less than .900.

While all the negative numbers might drive almost any other coach mad, especially just one week before league play begins, D.J. Whittemore is used to the position.

“Starting slow is nothing to new to us,” the fourth-year coach said. “We’ve started 15 games under .500 three years in a row.”

Last season the Wildcats started off the season 11-15 before winning 27 of their last 33 games.

WNC plays five games in the next four days, beginning with Reedley College on Friday.

This year, though, WNC has been nearly anemic from the batter’s box. Sophomore infielder Lance Ray leads the team in batting average (.412), but of the eight other players, who have started eight games or more, three are hitting below .200.

The team is expected to get a big part of its production back this weekend when starting catcher and leadoff hitter Jerome Pena returns to the field. The sophomore hasn’t played a game yet this season after he suffered a sports hernia injury before the first game of the year.

The Wildcats also could see Mike Long return to the lineup this weekend, the sophomore outfielder pulled a hamstring the first game of the season and hasn’t played since.

“We don’t have a large team in terms of numbers so depth is obviously an issue for us,” Whittemore said.

Defensively, the Wildcats have committed 26 errors through nine games, including seven in a 9-3 loss at Riverside Community College on Feb. 4.

Whittemore said some of the team’s problems could be a mix of youth (14 of the 28 players are freshman) and the constant changing between artificial and real turf. But the biggest reason that Whittemore pointed to was the long road schedule.

“(Playing) 28 of 32 to start on the road, that’s a lot to ask of the Yankees and we’re obviously not that good,” Whittemore said.