South Dakota State Baseball could be heating up just in time for the warm weather. After enduring early season adversity, the Jacks have won seven of their last 10 games, and sit at 20-18 overall. Senior first baseman Aaron Machbitz reflects back on the first leg of the 2013 season, and with League tournament one month away, is confident about the outlook moving forward.
“Through the first part of the season there have already been a lot of ups and downs. We have played some really good games, but also played some really bad ones. The most important part of our season is coming up next so it’s good we got all of the bad stuff out of the way and we’re only positive and uphill from here,” said Machbitz.
Machbitz has definitely done his part to contribute. He leads the team with six home runs on and is second in batting average at .340. However, hitting and offense is just part of the equation. The pitching has been strong too. Jacks third year head coach Dave Schrage says what hold this team together is found by those that grip the leather and red yarn.
“Pitching and defense right now are our strengths. Going into this weekend we were in the top 25 in the country in defense, and our pitching staff’s [earned run average] was down in the threes. So if you can do that, and make teams earn their runs, you usually stay in games,” said Schrage.
State leads the Summit League in Strikeouts, earned run average, and innings pitched – key stats that helped last year’s team to make the NCAA division one tournament for the first time in school history. As a result of their success, the programs new standards are clear.
“Obviously we want to get back to the NCAA tournament, that was a big accomplishment. We want to get even further this year than where we were last year, so we’re hoping to accomplish that,” say Scott Splett.
For the Jacks to make it back to NCAA tournament, they will need to win the League tournament in May. Every team is eligible for postseason play, but only one team has the identity of the defending champ.
“Yes I think the kids have set the bar. We want to defend our title. We get to host in Sioux Falls and we’re excited about that. We have teams coming into our home turf and you want to play well in front of the hometown fans and defend,” said Schrage.