WNC braces for another tough road trip | NevadaAppeal.com

WNC braces for another tough road trip

Darrell Moody

One thing is certain, Western Nevada College’s baseball team may have the toughest non-conference community schedule in the Western region.

After splitting against South Mountain two weeks ago and being swept by Riverside Community College last week, WNC must gear up for another four-game road stretch against three of Northern California’s top teams.

The Wildcats, 2-5, play at American River College Thursday at 5 p.m., visit Cosumnes River Friday at 1 and then conclude the four-game road trip Saturday with an 11 a.m. doubleheader against defending state champion Sierra College in Rocklin.

WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said the Sacramento teams will be a handful.

“They are at the same elite level (as the other teams we have played),” said Whittemore, who put his team through an indoor workout . “All three play in the Elite 8 which is the best conference in California. Last year’s (California) state champ (Sierra) came out of that conference. It’s not going to get any easier, but that’s why we do it.

“Of course I’d rather be 5-2. You tend to look in a mirror harder when you lose and find ways to get better.”

Whittemore’s club produced just six runs and struck out 34 times in three games last week. The offense has to get better if WNC can get back to being the type of team it’s been the past two years. Part of the problem could be the switching from wood to aluminum and back again.

The most consistent hitter has been Lance Ray, while Brian Barnett seems to be rounding into form.

“The only change we need to make is in our own attitude,” Whittemore said. “I think we let our frustration build (last week). I still believe in them. I believe they are good hitters.

“It’s a very difficult transition. We have our sights set on playing in Grand Junction (the World Series). To do that, you have to win the Western District which is aluminum bats. In 2007, I thought we were at an advantage (in the post-season) because we had played 8 to 10 games game with aluminum bats.”

Whittemore will start Josh Moody on Thursday against ARC, Kyle Starratt faces Cosumnes River, and Jordan Lewis and Javy Perez will start against Sierra.

Starratt has yet to win this season, but Whittemore remains solidly behind his ace pitcher. Whittemore said that Starratt is in no danger of losing his spot in the rotation.

“He threw well his first start,” Whittemore said of Starratt. “We didn’t play defense behind him. He just missed over the plate. The reason why he’s No. 1 is that he does throw strikes.

NOTES: Marshall Kennedbrew did return to the squad last week, but the Wildcats are still without outfielder Mike Long and catcher Jerome Pena. Whittemore hopes to get Pena back when conference play starts