The Red Storm baseball team is preparing for a comeback season after falling short during last year’s regional championship.
Dixie State College’s baseball team has started this year with its new head coach Chris Pfatenhauer.
It was expected to be overwhelming for the players to start the season with a new coach.
But Pfatenhauer said his players have been receiving not only his new coaching strategies well, but also new aspects of the game.
“We started our fall practice in September,” Pfatenhauer said. “So we are about five months into it, and the guys have bought in tremendously to the new coaching staff.”
Pfatenhauer said it could have been tough for him if the returning men hadn’t bought into what he was doing and what the staff brought to the team in terms of philosophies.
He said the new philosophies include everything from attending other sporting events on campus to doing community service. He also asked them to make some mechanical adjustments to their game.
“It’s been a really smooth transition,” Pfatenhauer said.
Before coming to Dixie, Pfatenhauer spent the last three years as the first assistant baseball coach for the University of Nevada. He was also the recruiting coordinator. Prior to that, he worked two years at Chico State University in California where he specialized in hitting.
Now the team is fine tuning for the next two weeks as the Red Storm prepare to open the season with their Alumni game on Feb. 2. in Bruce Hurst Field at noon.
Capitalizing on their strengths for the upcoming games, Pfatenhauer said some of their biggest threats to their opponents are their ability to hit, their speed, and their power.
“We have a really good mix offensively, and we have a lot of senior leadership,” Pfatenhauer said. “We have 13 seniors and guys that were in the program last year.”
Pfatenhauer said Dixie almost had a chance to go to the World Series last year. He said there are a lot of guys who have been through the system and know the way the game works.
“We had a really talented team [last year],” said pitcher Josh Mooney, a senior business major from American Fork. “But we underachieved and we didn’t make the plays that we should have.”
Now DSC is working hard to ensure it’s not defeated by a small margin again.
“There are a lot of changes this year,” Mooney said. “But it just depends on how you react to it. Team chemistry is a big change from last year. We weren’t as close as (a) group and this year we are.”
Pfatenhauer pointed out some of the returning starters who are expected to perform well this season. Those include Senior catcher Mitch Manning, sophomore third baseman Yuto Kata, senior second baseman Colton Yack, along with three infielders and seven pitchers.
Joining the team this year are a few new recruits. Pfatenhauer said the key contributors are sophomore infielder and pitcher Kevin Kline, who was announced freshman all-American at SUU.
Pfatenhauer said he will be the first baseman on the opening day.
Along with Kline, joining the team will also be junior pitcher Bubba Blau, from Cochise Community College in Arizona, as well as Kort Christoffersen, a junior pitcher who previously played at College of Eastern Utah.
Spring kickoff for baseball starts Feb. 1-2. On Feb. 1, there will be a baseball dinner at 6 p.m. in the Gardner Ballroom. Dale Sveum, the manager of the Chicago Cubs, is attending and speaking at the dinner, and an auction will be held.
Pfatenhauer said he would like people to come out and support the team.
DSC’s home opener will be held on Feb. 28 against Montana State University-Billings.