RiverHawks baseball set to start the season
TNE Editor

RiverHawks baseball set to start the season

Published 1/29/18

Austin Headlee 

TNE Writer 

The baseball season will soon be underway for NSU. The team is full of new faces and returning leaders. There are plenty of new people on the team, but all members are eager to contribute this upcoming season. 

“Butch Rea has stepped in the graduate assistant spot pretty seamlessly for the most part,” said Jake Hendrick, NSU baseball head coach. “It’s kind of tough going from a player. He was our starting shortstop last year going to the grad assistant spot. He’s working with the outfielders. He’s a worker.” 

Hendrick also highlighted Parker Kruckenberg, NSU baseball assistant coach from Montana State-Billings, and Justin Zertuche, junior college transfer student assistant, during the MIAA Media Day. Hendrick had previously recruited with Kruckenberg before he was named the new assistant coach. Hendrick believes Zertuche will play a big role on the team, helping at almost every level of the game. Hendrick is confident in the new additions to the team, but he also stated it may be an area of concern.

“We haven’t seen a lot of guys do it,” said Hendrick. “Guys have to earn it once we start playing. We’ve seen guys do it in the fall, guys who’ve had success in junior college, guys who had success last year. It’s a new year, new everything. You’ve got to show up and prove it on a daily basis.” 

The new additions must prove themselves during game time, but they have shown promise during the summer and fall. Dustin Berrong, graduate pitcher from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., believes this is one of the best teams he’s worked with. 

“I’m excited,” said Berrong. “We’ve got a great group of guys that have worked harder than any group I’ve played with. We’re very close as a team. It’s the most family-oriented team I’ve ever played on.” 

Berrong believes the close connection between the team is a strength for the team. However, he also noted it could be a weakness.

“We’re going to play together, we’re going to play the game the right way and we’re going to do everything the right way,” said Berrong. “Our weaknesses could be the same exact thing though. Sometimes we may get off on a tangent that may not matter as much to the game because somebody got a bad call or something didn’t go our way. We all pull so much for each person that we may let that get us down. I wouldn’t think that’s going to end up being a problem, but that would be a weakness I could see.” 

The RiverHawks are going into the season as a well-rounded team. The team has plenty of players who are ready to contribute both offensively and defensively. Jordan Payne, returning senior outfielder from Mangum, led the team last year with 15 home runs and was described as a wonderful leader and tremendous player by Hendrick. Hendrick also mentioned Colton Wright, junior catcher from Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, as a player who will contribute offensively. Wright transferred from Western Oklahoma State, where he had two home runs and 17 RBIs last season.  

“We have a lot of guys who can hit, a lot of guys who can get on base,” said James Cowell, junior pitcher from Valliant. “We have also got a pretty good pitching staff this year. We worked so hard in the fall. If we did have a weakness anywhere we’d work on it, but at this point we’re ready.” 

The RiverHawks start their season Feb. 2 in a three-game series in Austin, Texas against the St. Edward’s University Hilltoppers. The RiverHawks started last season against the Hilltoppers and won two of the three games in the series.

 

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