WNC baseball, softball squads open conference tournament play today
Western Nevada College, fresh off a sweep of Colorado Northwestern, opens play in the Scenic West Athletic Conference baseball tournament at 4 p.m. today against Salt Lake Community College at Southern Nevada College.
Western Nevada (41-15) received a first-round bye as did regular-season champion Southern Nevada. Salt Lake opened its tournament play with a 10-1 win over Colorado Northwestern on Wednesday.
The one big difference in the conference tournament is that all games are nine innings unless a team is ahead by 10 after five innings or eight after seven innings. This will benefit teams with deep pitching staffs, according to WNC coach D.J. Whittemore.
“It’s pretty tough to get through any lineup three times,” Whittemore said. “It’s tough to pitch to guys a fourth time. Somebody like (Kramer) Champlin who is very efficient could go eight innings and 100 pitches.
“Teams that have developed a good bullpen, it’s a big benefit. It (playing nine) also gives you two more times at the plate.”
Whittemore also expects less small ball in a longer game because of the extra two at-bats each team gets.
Whittemore said he’s undecided on today’s starter. He’ll choose from Kramer Champlin (10-2, 1.40), Jordan Lewis (2-3, 4.50) and Jake Waardenburg (6-3, 2.35). Jeremy Gendlek (8-2. 3.16) could be used either out of the bullpen or as a starter.
“We don’t have to score a million runs to win,” Whittemore said. “We’re undefeated when we score six or more runs and we’re undefeated when we have the lead in the eighth or later.”
That’s a tribute to bullpen aces David Carroll (4-3, 2.76) and Tim Peterson (4-1, 2.52). The Wildcats can also go to Kyle DiMartino (1-1, 1.80) and Riley Bevill (1-0, 1.17) for short-inning relief. The Wildcats compiled an impressive team ERA of 2.53 in the regular season.
Whittemore’s team went 5-3 in the regular season against Salt Lake. The Wildcats swept the series at home, but lost three of four in Salt Lake three weeks ago. Salt Lake leads the SWAC in several offensive categories, including batting average, runs and slugging percentage.
Catcher Tyson Littlewood (.355), shortstop Kasey Carling (.333), J.R. Roland (.366), Zack Swasey (.360) and Mitch Manning (.328, 11 homers) lead the Salt Lake offense.
Whittemore is undecided on his starting lineup. He’s expecting to see Tyson Memmott, a freshman left-hander.
If it is Memmott, Whittemore will either bulk up the offense with right-handed hitters or drop some of his left-handed swingers down a couple of spots. Kevin Taylor (.323) and Jay Skilton (.329) will occupy the top two spots. Shortstop Spencer Ofelt (.346) will hit No. 3 and outfielder Kyle Conwell (.331) will hit fourth. Eric Maupin (.261) will hit fifth, but after that it’s anybody’s guess.
Whittemore said he would like more production from the catcher, designated hitter and second base slots.
SOFTBALL: WNC FACES CSN
Western Nevada College (7-43) faces Southern Nevada (33-20) in the first round of the playoffs at noon today at Bruin Field in Salt Lake City.
The winner faces top seed Southern Idaho at 5 p.m., while the loser would come back Friday at 9:30 a.m.
Southern Nevada won seven of eight games against WNC in the regular season and outscored the locals 70-24. WNC avoided a season sweep with a 9-6 win in Carson City.
Southern Nevada’s Jesslynn Bley won 13 games and hit .423, while Shelbie Medrano won 13 games and hit .386. Katie Uriarte enters the game with a .377 average while Berlynn Bagley is at .398.
Ashley Williams leads WNC with a .255 average, while Kelsie Fahr is at .245 and Alicia Merrell is hitting .227.