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WSU baseball prepares for life on the road

  • Eagle correspondent
  • Published Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, at 7:35 p.m.

Wins over SIU-Edwardsville and Central Arkansas don’t mean much in the big picture of Todd Butler’s first season coaching Wichita State, but a 4-0 start is a solid starting point.

The Shockers haven’t won their first four games since 2011, which gives a new era a positive start entering the team’s first road trip of the season. WSU will travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C, to compete in the five-team round-robin Baseball at the Beach.

WSU will play Connecticut on Friday, George Mason on Saturday, Illinois on Sunday, and Coastal Carolina on Monday. All games will be played at Pelicans Ballpark.

“We’re happy to be 4-0,” Butler said. “Really though, we’re just trying to stay in the day and get these guys to understand today is the most important day and not to look ahead. We know the competition is going to get stiffer.”

Twenty-six players registered either a start in the field or recorded an out on the mound as WSU was able to comfortably win its first four games. Experience like that is crucial, especially while winning.

Established players such as Casey Gillaspie, who went 9 for 17 during the home stand, didn’t need the pick-me-up before leaving for the road trip. But some of the younger players can benefit greatly from building confidence before entering a hostile environment.

“It’s a good feeling leaving Wichita on a winning note,” Gillaspie said. “It’s definitely good for the freshmen. We feel like we’re going into Coastal Carolina with our confidence and swagger back from last year.”

For the 11 players who are either newcomers or looking to expand their roles on the team, the early wins help. But there will be still be an adjustment to be made this weekend.

“Just the field itself,” said freshman Wes Phillips, who is making a bid to play a middle infield position. “We’ve been on (Tyler Field) the whole time. So just getting a different feel, a different vibe, a different atmosphere, that’s huge.”

The road trip kicks off a competitive stretch on WSU’s schedule, which will feature the Shockers playing host to Long Beach State next weekend.

For a team still forming under Butler, the next two weeks will be important.

“I look at it as a great challenge,” Butler said. “But to start out like our guys have, they’ve done a great job. They just need to keep growing and improving and we’ll be fine.”

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