As the end of the school year approaches, so is the Indiana Wesleyan University Wildcats’ baseball season as the team heads toward the MCC Tournament in May.
The Wildcats went against Goshen College in a doubleheader on March 31, losing the first game 4-3. The Wildcats fell behind in the second game as well, but some seventh-inning heroics in the form of four runs brought IWU to a 7-6 victory.
“Losing the first game kind of put us in our place,” pitcher Michael Caley (jr) said. “We knew our backs were against the wall and that they could beat us, and we kind of came together in the last inning and knew we had to beat them.”
The Goshen games brought IWU’s overall record to 14-17. Coach Chad Newhard said his team still has more work to do.
“We just have to continue to play good baseball,” Newhard said. “I think every game is important for us. Every win we can win is helpful for us. We can’t ever overlook anyone, and we make sure we are playing at a high level every day.”
The win against Goshen was important, just like every game, because MCC teams must be in the top five in conference standings at season’s end to be in the tournament. The Wildcats are currently in a tie for fourth with Mount Vernon Nazarene, Grace and Marian with a record of 6-6 in the MCC.
Caley said he isn’t worried about making it to the tournament just yet, but instead about each individual game.
“I think as a team we need to focus on playing the best baseball we can play,” said Caley. “And when we play to the best of our abilities, there aren’t many teams that can beat us. We beat Spring Arbor, the best team in the nation.”
Spring Arbor University has an MCC record of 9-3, second only to Taylor University. IWU played the Cougars in two doubleheaders, resulting in a pair of splits.
Wildcat catcher Alex Ridlen (sr) said the team has great chemistry, and it’s that chemistry and hard work that will move IWU forward to the MCC tournament.
“For all of us, a major goal is just to be the hardest-working guys out there because we know that if we’re going to beat teams, we’re going to have to work harder than them,” Ridlen said. “We’re looking to win 21 games at conference because that’s what we’re looking to have to get into tournament.”
Newhard said the team continues to practice every day and sometimes even has an extra practice in the morning. But his main focus is keep the team’s dynamic together and in the right direction.
“We are a true essence of a team,” Newhard said. “If we are to have success, our offense and defense need to play at a high level instead of getting caught up in ‘what I’m doing.’ We need to get caught up in ‘what we’re doing.’”