Nate Pearsall, Staff Writer
Lacey, Wash. – The Saint Martin’s baseball team is filled with a lot of new faces this year. Freshman and transfers will all play a key role in making this a season to remember for the coaches, seniors, and newcomers.
Senior right-fielder and 2018 First Team All-GNAC selection, Austin Feist says he has seen growth spurts among the young players, which could lead to playing time. “We have a lot of freshman that could see the field this year and it shows in practice and the way that they work to improve aspects of their game.”
Head Coach Kelly Gau who served as interim head coach in 2018, spread the same message about the new faces in the program. “The incoming players have added needed competition throughout our roster and push returners and upper-classmen on a daily basis.” With the addition of Hudson White, Garret Friesz, Ty Matsunami, Lukas Hemenway, Cody Chavis, Elijah Santiago, Ethan Worden, Zach Alcos, and Elijah Hill, the Saints find themselves with the most depth they’ve seen in recent years.
A lot of these new players will see a lot of time on the field, bringing their style of play to campus. “There are some guys we expect to have an immediate impact for us this year,” says Gau, “and others we want to expose to this level of baseball in order to prepare them for their collegiate tenure.”
With the addition of Pitching Coach Cole Brocker and Assistant Coach Andy Forgione, the Saints gain experience from every level between these two. Brocker spent two seasons in the Minor Leagues, spending time in the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs organizations, before retiring after the 2015 season. Forgione, on the other hand, comes from the NWAC, where he spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach at Centralia College, in charge of defensive strategy, recruitment, and infield defense. Here at Saint Martin’s, he will take over the duties of outfield coach and baserunning, and will assist with hitters.
The season will begin on Feb. 1 when the Saints travel to San Bernardino, Calif. to take on the Coyotes of Cal State, San Bernardino and Dixie State of St. George, Utah.
Both non-conference games will mean something to the Saints. Not only will they be a rematch against former Pitching Coach Cam Selik, who is now at CSSB, but it will also put into perspective where they stand and what they can improve on. Feist seemed confident in his team, despite such an early start to the season. “It is a different feeling playing this early in the year, but I think we will be ready.”
Being ready is just the beginning for the Saints. After going 3-13 in games decided by two runs or less in 2018, the Saints will need to rely on their execution. “I feel that once we get a few close wins under our belt, we will feel more comfortable in those situations,” says Feist. “It is about willing ourselves to wins, if we fight harder than the opponent then we will be just fine.”
Through the ups and downs, there has been one common goal among the 37 players and coaches: make the GNAC tournament. The top four teams in the regular season standings will fight for the title in Portland, Ore., and both Gau and Feist believe they have what it takes to put themselves in that position. Gau mentioned the newest rule change to the GNAC Championships, an automatic bid to the NCAA Regional Tournament, as motivation. “With the addition of a first ever automatic bid this year, playing in the tournament puts us a few wins from appearing in an NCAA regional tournament.”
Feist voiced the same kind of motivation and confidence earlier. “If all goes according to our plan and we put in the work and execute like we are capable of, then I think this team will no doubt earn a bid to the GNAC tournament and we could make some noise once we get there.”
Following the Saints trip to California, they will head to Caldwell, Idaho to face the College of Idaho. March 2 marks the beginning of conference play against the Wildcats of Central Washington, and they are scheduled to make their home opener on March 9 against Concordia University.