For Head Coach Britt Bonneau, the 2010 baseball season has been about taking one step at a time.
The Wildcats accomplished step one by winning the regular season Lone Star Conference title last week. The ‘Cats look to take step two by winning the Lone Star Conference postseason tournamentÂ at Crutcher Scott FieldÂ this weekend.
“It’s a whole new season this weekend,” Bonneau said. “We’re right where we want to be.”
The Wildcats enter the postseason tournament after stumbling in their final series against Tarleton State. The Texans came into the series hungry, needing to win three of four against the first-place Wildcats in Abilene to make the postseason – and that’s exactly what they did.
“We played seven games last week; it was one of those deals where we sat some players out,” Bonneau said. “It was a weekend where we didn’t bring our A-game.”
The three victories vaulted the Texans ahead of West Texas A&M and into sole possession of the No. 6 seed, meaning the No. 1 Wildcats and Texans will meet again on the tournament’s first day. The Wildcats’ game with TSU is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday.
Bonneau expects another good game.
“I expect them to play just as hard as they did last weekend,” Bonneau said. “If we show up with the same intensity, we’ll play better and we’ll be ready to go.”
Starting pitcher Zach Sneed said his team’s poor performance against TSU lit a fire under them. Sneed said the Texans should expect a much more determined effort this weekend.
“I think we’re ready to go,” Sneed said. “We know we had a bad week. We put that behind us, and if anything, it’s spurred us on. We’re ready to show Tarleton that they are facing a different team.”
The Wildcats will start Cameron Aspaas in the opening game. Aspaas had a 5-4 record this season with a 3.18 ERA. Aspaas leads the club with 48 strikeouts.
The Wildcats will also lean heavily on closer Brad Rutherford throughout the tournament. Rutherford started the season as LSC Preseason Pitcher of the Year and did not disappoint, striking out 40 batters while walking only eight. Rutherford said he expects his team to come out ready to play.
“We’re going to out and give ourselves our best chance to win,” Rutherford said. “I expect to compete hard and hopefully win the conference like we did last year.”
If the Wildcats do manage to win the conference title, they will do it in front of their home fans for the second-straight season. The Wildcats believe their strong fan base gives them an advantage over their opponents.
“It always helps when we have fans at the games,” Bonneau said. “When you have a team that’s high-ranked and wins a lot of games, the fans get into it.”
While the Wildcats definitely have a conference title on their to-do list, their aspirations go much further. The Wildcats know a conference title is an important step toward their goal of winning a national championship.
“Winning the LSC has been our goal since the beginning,” said first baseman Bret Bochsler. “But our goals don’t stop there. Our goal is to get to the national championship, and this is just step one.”
Bochsler said his team has the mindset and the ability to win the conference and maybe more.
“I feel that we have a great chance to do well,” he said. “We’re favored to win and that just helps us with confidence. “