EWU baseball and softball clubs keep hardball spirit alive


Mckenzie Ford

Left: Freshman pitcher Cassidy Kennedy hits ground balls at practice. Right: Baseball club president Jake Richards steps onto a mound during practice. The softball and baseball clubs practiced in the field house in the winter, while the snow was on the ground in preparation for their spring seasons.

By Drew Lawson, Reporter

Baseball has not been an official sport at EWU since 1990, and the school is one of four Big Sky Conference members without a softball team, which leaves club sports as the only opportunity for Eagles to toss the hardball.

The baseball club consists of 26 members. They play with aluminum bats and compete in the National Collegiate Baseball Association, which is considered Division II club competition. Most games are nine innings, but if the team plays a doubleheader, one game will be seven.

EWU is part of a five-team league within the NCBA called the Northern Pacific-North Conference. The other four schools include familiar names: Idaho, Montana, Gonzaga and Washington State. The regular season lasts approximately 12-15 games. It began in early March and runs through late April.

The winners of each conference throughout the country have the opportunity to continue playing in the postseason. Club vice president and catcher Christian Lopez told The Easterner about the advancement process.

“We go four weekends of league games,” Lopez said. “Then regionals and nationals.”

Club president and senior pitcher Jake Richards said that regionals are in Idaho, but EWU hasn’t advanced that far since the year before Richards came to college.

EWU plays its home games approximately 10 miles north of Cheney in Medical Lake. The Eagles were scheduled to host the Vandals to open the season in a series on March 2-3, but the series was called due to snow. The next scheduled series is against Gonzaga, also in Medical Lake, the first weekend of April.

Prospective members of the club, which charges $60 per quarter for membership, are recommended to register during fall quarter in order to be able to take part in all practices and games.

“In the fall we started practicing and play one or two weekends,” Richards said. “Winter quarter, that’s when we start getting ready for the season … Winter quarter is the last chance to join. Most people join in the fall. If you want to join in the winter you can.”

Junior Alex Larsen, who plays second and third base for EWU, was invited to go to camps to potentially walk on at West Virginia University and the University of Maryland. A shoulder surgery forced him to redshirt at Shoreline Community College instead. After transferring to EWU, he said he has enjoyed the competition the NCBA brings.

“When I got to club here, everybody was trying to have fun and push everybody to be better.” Larsen said. “It’s been a really good experience … You see us out on the field and we’re probably one of the most competitive bunches.”

The fastpitch club is similar to the baseball club. EWU competes in the National Collegiate Softball Association. There are five teams in its conference, the Pacific Region North. The other four teams are WSU, GU, Boise State University and University of Oregon.

The Eagles have started the season 0-3 after getting swept in March by Oregon. Their next series is the weekend of April 6 at WSU.

Club president and second baseman Bridget Black has been with the club for two and a half years. She said the team plays two to three seven-inning games in a series. Black noted the low cost of joining the club.

“We charge about $30 per quarter,” Black said. “(It’s) pretty affordable.”

Currently, there are 14-15 team members. Similar to the baseball club, softball practices twice a week in the Fieldhouse year round, with a few non-league games in the fall and regular league play in the spring. Practices for the regular season ramp up during winter quarter.

Junior catcher Toni Cloud said the communication and community of the team has been a positive experience in her first year on the club.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Cloud said. “These girls make the time to practice with each other, and we’re always flexible on when to meet … We have a random group chat that makes us be friends as well as teammates.”

Freshman third baseman Valerie Zaragoza said the team could do well this season.

“There’s lot of skill here,” Zaragoza said. “Everyone here is really nice, and there’s definitely talent here. I think it’s going to be a pretty good season.”

More information on both clubs can be found on the EWU Club Sports website.