The Dixie State University baseball team is throwing its first pitch in California this weekend as it opens its season against Cal Poly Pomona.
This series of games will show Dixie where it is thus far in the season, head coach Chris Pfatenhauer said. He said he has seen the Broncos before when Dixie State hosted the playoffs last season. They will be a team to watch out for.
“They are a good club, and [the team knows] they will play hard,” Pfatenhauer said. “They will actually have three games under their belt before we play them.”
Although Cal Poly is not in the Storm’s conference, the Broncos faced Point Loma Nazarene University, which is in Dixie’s conference, and swept it 3-0.
Pfatenhauer said the main things the team needs to work on are trying to pitch and play defense.
“That is our focus this year,” Pfatenhauer said. “We recruited that way. We are trying to become a program that pitches and defends. All of the time we have spent since the break has been about pitching and defense. And we think we are close.”
As part of the season kick-off, the team had an alumni game Saturday. The players said this was a good chance to prepare for Cal Poly.
Pitcher Tyler Blair, a senior communication major from Las Vegas, said the team is running practices as if they were games with realistic situations.
The Dixie baseball team defeated the alumni 8-0 in 10 innings.
“The strength of our team is pitching, and it showed,” said pitcher Matt Hill, a senior business major from Cypress, Calif. “Hopefully we can take our outing into the season and compete every game. We’re going to hit, so as long as we continue to play defense, we’re going to be fine for Cal Poly.”
Pfatenhauer said the best part is having all of the guys in one dugout. He said he looks forward to seeing the “operation” of the men in the dugout in the alumni games.
“That type of thing will get us into a little bit of a rhythm,” Pfatenhauer said. “It will also get us in a good position in term of running our offense.”
With the beginning of the season approaching, the team is emphasizing trust among the players and hopes to build camaraderie on the field.
“We are working hard to build the chemistry we had last year,” Hill said. “I think that plays a huge role in our success.”
To help the team start off on the right foot, it had a baseball dinner, where the players got a chance to tell the community who they are as a team, as well as meet some of the alumni of Dixie baseball.
The 2004 National Champion baseball team was acknowledged at the baseball dinner Friday. There, a dinner and a silent auction were held, along with a few words by the former head coach for Dixie baseball, Mike Littlewood. Littlewood shared stories and explained how valuable camaraderie was on the field.
The baseball team faces Cal Poly Feb. 7-9 at Scolinos Field.