In A World of Change, Utah Valley Baseball Finds Success

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Wolverines continue to win on and off the field

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Kyle McDonald | Sports Writer| kylesportsbias

Utah Valley University baseball coach Eric Madsen took over a program that some would say was in a transition period. Long-time coach Steve Gardner was retiring. The athletic program was moving from the junior college ranks to Division I. It might lead someone to think that there would be some rebuilding years. Not under Madsen.

Since becoming head coach in 2009, Madsen has won 193 games. In a three-year span from 2010-2012, Madsen would lead Utah Valley to 123 win against only 51 losses. “We’ve had some good kids that come in here and play hard… great coaches that are with me,” Madsen said about the success.

Madsen would guide the Wolverines to three consecutive Great West Conference championships from 2010-2012 and he would win three Coach of the Year awards during this span.

During the 2012 season, UVU would win 32 straight games which was two shy of tying the NCAA record including a win over eventual national champion Arizona on their way to a 47-12 record and their third straight regular season and tournament championship. “It was a special year. Those kids really believed in what they did…it was the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever been involved in,” Madsen said.

During the 2012 season, Madsen coached Goose Kallunki, who was the first Utah Valley athlete to receive first-team All-American honors. Two other players, Billy Burgess and Austin Heaps, would receive third-team All-American honors in that same season.

He has coached two other All-Americans, Jace Brinkerhoff, 2010 and Chris Benson, 2011.

Throughout his time at UVU, Madsen has produced 38 all-conference players; 21 first-team and 17 second-team as well as 2010 Player of the Year (Brinkerhoff), the Pitcher and Newcomer of the Year in 2011 (Jeremy Gendlek) and Player of the Year in 2012 (Kallunki).

In 2014, UVU fell one win short of winning their first WAC tournament championship losing to Sacramento State 10-3 in Mesa, Arizona. UVU will face Sacramento State in a three game series in Orem, Utah April 2, 2015 through April 4, 2015. It is a big series as it could be one that determines the WAC regular season champion.  “The biggest series is Sac State. They’re the defenders… team that’s picked to win it,” Madsen said. “Every game is big… that’s our expectation is to win it every year.”

Utah Valley will face in-state rivals Utah and BYU twice during the 2015 season. On April 7, UVU will travel to Miller Park in Provo to take on the Cougars and then host BYU in Orem on April 28. UVU will play Utah in Salt Lake City on April 14 and then host the Utes in Orem on May 5. “It’s great for the fans. For us it’s good. We know those guys… people forget where they are and where we are but we’re able to compete which creates a little more of a rivalry. It’s fun to play those games because the interest is there,” Madsen said.

In his seventh season, Madsen will look to continue that success that is putting Wolverine baseball on the map.