Dixie State University shot down the Holy Names University Hawks 3-1 for the series and is now on the hunt to beat the Grand Canyon University Lopes this week.
DSU batted against HNU in a four-game series April 4-6. Holy Names began this season being a first year team with a new program.
“They hired a good coach,” head coach Chris Pfatenhauer said. “They hired him early on so he could spend some time recruiting, and they are competing.”
DSU started the first game against HNU scoreless until the third inning, where senior catcher Mitch Manning hit a grand slam with his third home run of the season. That hit gave Dixie State the drive it needed to finish out the game.
“It felt great,” said Manning, a senior business major from Kaysville. “We were down and bases were loaded. I was looking…for them to make a mistake, and I wanted to put a good swing on it. And I hit a home run.”
Manning said putting the home run over the fence gave the Storm the momentum to win.
The third inning ended with six runs for Dixie followed by five more runs in the fourth inning. The Storm continued to beat Holy Names 15-3.
The Storm played a double-header on April 5 against HNU. Dixie won the second game 4-3 but fell short in the third, losing the game 2-3.
DSU went on to take control of the fourth game of the series with 15 hits and a seven-run third inning. Manning hit his fourth home run of the season, allowing three runs for the Storm. Dixie State beat HNU 11-1, winning the series 3-1.
The Red Storm will start the series against Grand Canyon University with a 16-8 ranking in the Pacific West Conference on April 11.
The Lopes are currently leading in the PacWest with a 21-1 record and is leading overall with a 29-5 record.
“[GCU has] three of the top eight arms in the conference right now, and they have two of the [top] 10 batters in the conference,” Pfatenhauer said. “They are a good all-around team, and that will be a dog fight for us.”
Senior pitcher Sam Friend, a communication major from Las Vegas, said GCU is the best team in the division and can play really well. He said Dixie will have to be on its “A” game for the series.
“Playing them will be kind of a make or break situation of the year,” Friend said. “If we do everything the way we are capable of doing, then we will have a talented enough team, which means pitchers need to throw strikes and command the zones; hitters don’t press.”
Friend said as far as the mindset goes, they need to be relaxed and not “play the opponent, play the game.”
“Most of the times a good team will lose because they beat themselves rather than actually getting beat,” Friend said.
Pfatenhauer said in order to beat this team, Dixie needs to put all of its strengths together.
“When we offend, when we defend and when we pitch all in the same day, we are as good as anybody in the country,” Pfatenhauer said.
But Pfatenhauer said nine times this year Dixie has not done all of those in one day. DSU currently has nine losses.
“We still haven’t played great defense,” Pfatenhauer said. “We got better there for a couple of weeks. We really started to climb the ladder and make all the routine plays. Then we just went in the tank for a few days and made some costly errors.”
He said the Storm usually have one day a week were they don’t hit well, or it takes them five to six innings to get in the speed of things.
“It is usually against a soft thrower or a guy with a good off speed pitch that we usually struggle with,” Pfatenhauer said.
He said his guys care about the team. He said if the men get in a good week of practice, he thinks they will be in the right place to defeat GCU.