“Well, it was gut-wrenching; it’s the worst thing I’ve been a part of,” said Head Coach Eric Madsen. “After such a great year and then having to deal with that, it’s just a disappointment. In reality it is what it is. It was unjustifiable, and there wasn’t anything anybody could say other than it turns into politics and people make all the reasons they want, but they’re all refuted.”
The NCAA selection committee praised UVU’s accomplishments but in the end said the Wolverines were only one of the last teams considered. The committee used strength of schedule as its main point for leaving UVU out despite the Wolverines beating three PAC-12 opponents. In spite of the lingering feeling of disappointment, the current UVU baseball team looks at the experience as a way to prepare for next season.
“It was heart breaking definitely,” said senior IF Kai Hatch. “To put that much work in and to feel like you did your part and to have your fate kind of left in someone else’s hands is always tough. It definitely is a learning experience. There is a handful of guys that went through that last year that are back this year. I think first of all we know we have a clear picture of what we need to do to get to that level this year.”
The picture of success this year once again includes winning the Great West Conference. UVU has won the past three Great West Conference championships and has won 28 straight games played against conference foes. This year’s team is much younger after losing over one-third of the roster from last year, but the talent level is still very high.
“We have some real good freshmen coming in and you know they’ll still be learning and they’ll go through a learning curve,” Madsen said. “I just think that’s the biggest thing is those young kids have to step up and not be overwhelmed but just find their niche in the program and find their way to help us be successful.”
Coach Madsen and his coaching staff will not be alone in helping the newcomers learn. UVU returns a core group of upper classmen that are ready to lead by demonstrating what it takes to win.
“I’ve been more conscious about having the younger kids here and making sure I’m doing the right things,” said senior and reigning Great West Conference pitcher of the year Adam Gunn. “I’m kind of a more mellow guy. I’m the exact opposite of Ray Lewis. I’m more like Joe Flacco. I’ll go out and do my thing and let my playing ability speak for itself.”
The Wolverines will have the opportunity to start the season off with big wins in the preseason, something they failed to do last year. UVU plays against Gonzaga and No. 10 Oregon State in Palm Springs on Feb. 15.