A look back at UVU’s 2016 WAC championship season
UVU’s baseball team made a run to the postseason just once in the history of the program in 2016. The Wolverines had an overall record of 37-23 with a conference record of 18-9. They ended the season No. 3 in the WAC Conference and ended sweeping the WAC tournament, winning four games in a row.
Here’s just how they got there:
The Wolverines started out with a tournament in Surprise, Arizona. The key matchup that weekend was their third game there No. 5 Oregon State University. This was a big game for the Wolverines where they won 12-9 and earned some national recognition in the process. After the first weekend, the Wolverines split their games going 2-2 but gained a lot of momentum after the big win over the Beavers.
Winning just two of their next five games, the Wolverines traveled to Pullman, Washington where they took on PAC-12 opponent Washington State in a four-game series. The team had a huge weekend and ended up winning the series, taking three games from the Cougars on their home turf.
To round out the preseason, the Wolverines won four of their last nine games heading into WAC play this ending their preseason going .500 at 11-11.
Of the nine WAC series that they played, UVU won seven of the nine and swept two of the series. This gave the Wolverines great confidence going into the WAC tournament, seeing that they were able to win at least one game against every team in the conference and swept Chicago State to end the regular season.
The Wolverines got the three seed going into the WAC Tournament and would face off against Cal State Bakersfield. The Wolverines won 6-4 and started off the tournament on the right foot. Next, they would play No. 2 seed New Mexico State. After three close games in the regular season,this game was bound to be a good one. Following nine hard-fought innings, the Wolverines were able to come out on top 3-2. Rounding out the tournament, they were able to beat the No. 1 seed Seattle University back-to-back to claim the title and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals. This was the first and only time UVU won the WAC conference since participating in the conference.
The Wolverines punched their ticket to the Baton Rouge Regional where they would first square off against No. 8 ranked LSU. The Tigers are well known nationally for being a baseball powerhouse year after year. A good game against LSU would create great momentum for the Wolverines. The team put up a fight, but couldn’t keep up with the Tigers and lost 7-1. Playing against Southeastern Louisiana in their next game of the tournament, it was an all-or-nothing situation. Throughout a hard fought battle in a game that exhibited bouts of good baseball, the Wolverines season would come to an end with a 3-2 loss to Southeastern Louisiana.
Despite losing their first two games in the NCAA tournament, the Wolverines had one of the most successful seasons in UVU’s history. It may not have been the most wins or set the most records, but taking into account the meaningful wins and the winning of the WAC tournament, the 2016 season has been one of the best seasons in Wolverine Baseball history.
Photo courtesy of UVU Athletics