Baseball disappointed at end of season, look to future

Joe Stuart, Staff Writer

The Linfield Wildcats baseball program is one that has seen storied amounts of success throughout its history. So when a season still has strong results, but results that aren’t quite good enough, it leads to disappointment, but also hunger.

This year, the Wildcats finished 25-15 with a 14-10 record in Northwest Conference play.

They hit .297 with a .450 slugging percentage, 239 RBIs and 37 home runs. Two pitchers finished in the top five in the conference in strikeouts.

The team featured two first-team all-conference players, three second-team and an honorable mention.

For most programs, this is a successful season, but not for the Wildcats. For the first time in the last five years, Linfield didn’t play postseason baseball, being kept out of the NWC tournament because of tiebreakers.

“We underperformed all year,” said junior Ben Andrews. “Next year we are going to make sure not to overlook the lower level teams.”

What Andrews was referring to was losses to teams like Willamette University, Lewis and Clark, and the University of Puget Sound, all teams that finished with losing records.

“If a few things would have been different who knows what kind of season we could have put together,” said starting pitcher Riley Newman, ’17.

It’s sentiments like these that are the thoughts of Linfield baseball players as they head into the offseason: “We should have done better”, “What if?”, and “We let ourselves down.”

“I don’t really know how to describe this season other than disappointing and feeling like we have unfinished business,” said Finn McMichael, ’16.

This is rare from a team with a winning record, but it just shows that Linfield baseball players only know how to do one thing: win.

But of course, a key part of being a winning team is being able to find the positives in the negatives.

Even though many members of the team are disappointed, they remain proud.

The ’Cats finished the regular season strong, winning every series in April, and ending the year on a five game win streak.

“If we play with the kind of intensity we ended the season on, we have a national championship caliber team,” said Andrews.

Other players had similar thoughts, “We played our best baseball in the last month of the season,” said McMichael.

“Every season comes with ups and downs and even though things didn’t turn out in our favor, we ended the season in a strong way for next year,” said David Mason, ’16.

And in the end, that’s the beautiful thing about baseball, that there’s always next year.

Next year, things will be different, things will be better. Those are the thoughts of the Linfield baseball team.

“Next year, we will be a scrappy team that is led by a strong senior core that will not be satisfied with anything less than a national championship,” said Newman, who led the pitching staff with seven wins, second in the conference.

The Wildcats will learn from their mistakes, and use the disappointment from this season to drive themselves to dominance next season.

“Our team has some Amazing talent, and we have great chemistry. If we put it on ourselves I see us as a national competitor,” said junior Scott Hilpert.

So next year, don’t expect the same results. Next year, expect the conference tourney. Next year, expect the NCAA tourney. Next year, expect only the best from the Wildcats. Because the Wildcats sure do.