The 2023 Baseball Preview: Insider expectations
As the Utah Valley University baseball team prepares to lace up their cleats for their first game of 2023 there seems to be a different feeling about this season; this season, the expectations are arguably higher than ever before.
“This team is a lot better than previous years, and the scrimmages have been a tell-tell sign,” Nick Sims, UVU Senior who plays on the baseball team, stated. “There is a different aura; we are trying to prove something every day, we are trying to prove that this team has expectations now, and we are ready to show the community what we are all about.”
Sims is a Senior in his fourth season at UVU. Having experienced previous years with this squad, he says this team feels special.
Heading into his second season as the baseball head coach, Eddie Smith comes from some of the top programs in the nation in Louisiana State University, Tulane University and the University of Virginia. His own college playing career started at Centralia Community College in Washington state.
Many of the recruits that Smith and Recruiting Coordinator Nate Rasmussen have brought in come from the junior college level.
Davis Spencer, a right-handed pitcher from Ellensburg, Washington, is expected to have a significant role on the mound. He came to UVU from Central Arizona College and was last year’s NJCAA National Champion.
“Junior college baseball is another beast; the long days, bus rides, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches make you appreciate the little things we have here at UVU,” Specener remarks. “[it instill[s] a work ethic into you that becomes second nature.”
Many of the JUCO players come from programs with winning traditions; Weston Penninger played at Howard College in Washington D.C., Reece Rodabaugh toed the rubber at Parkland Junior College in Illinois, and Calyn Halverson transferred from Northern Oklahoma College in Enid.
“This team brings fire, competitiveness and can explode at any point,” said Reece Rodahbough, a key member of the bullpen.
Carter Krosky, a sidewinder from the West who transferred from South Mountain College in Arizona, stated that this team is like a brotherhood.
“After practice, we are all trying to get Rancheritos or just hang out and talk baseball,” Krosky points out. “Everyone has a common goal and the same explanations, so when the team is like that, everyone clicks, and the chemistry is through the roof.”
Another newcomer that the baseball team added this season won’t be hitting home runs, making diving plays, or throwing mid-90s past hitters. Still, he might be the reason behind the players doing so at the UCCU ballpark this season. Enter JJ Valencia, the head Strength and Conditioning Coach or, more formally, the Director of Baseball Performance.
“The goal I have for the players I work with is not to put up numbers in the weight room, especially in a sport like baseball which has a long grueling season. It’s to get the most output out of our players,” Valencia said. “If there’s a long day at the field, we will build our workouts to be lighter yet still have extreme intensity.”
The Wolverines open their season on Feb. 17 against the University of California, Davis and have their home opener against cross-town rival BYU on Tuesday, Feb 28th.