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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Defense has been an issue for Chico State baseball in 2018 season

Chico State Head Coach Dave Taylor makes a mound visit and brings his whole infield in following back-to-back errors against Northwest Nazarene. Photo credit: Austin Schreiber

The Chico State baseball team has six games left in the regular season and they are currently sitting in third place in the California Collegiate Athletic Conference behind Cal State Monterey Bay and UC San Diego.

With the playoffs on the line, the Wildcats will take on fourth-place Cal Poly Pomona in a pivotal four-game series this weekend in Pomona.

One thing the team will look to seriously improve on this weekend is its defense. In the series finale against Cal State Dominguez Hills last Sunday, the Wildcats made a whopping five errors. Fortunately, they were able to make up for the sloppy defense by scoring 13 runs in the game.

When asked how important it was to minimize errors going forward, Assistant Coach Jose Garcia said, “It’s crucial for us to get better on the defensive end. It’s not every game that we’re going to be able to put up 13 runs, so it’s important that we play good defense behind our pitchers who have been throwing the ball extremely well all year. Especially with the postseason quickly approaching, this is about the time where we want to be playing our best baseball.”

This also wasn’t the first time that Chico State had a rough time on defense. There have been five games where the team has committed four errors, two games with five errors and one game with six.

“I wouldn’t say that defense has been our strong point up until this point. We’ve been inconsistent from one game to another, which I believe has been the one thing that has held us back from really taking off,” Coach Garcia said.

Accordingly, the team has recently worked hard on tightening up its defense at practice. Cameron Santos, the Wildcats’ third baseman, talked about what he continues to focus on in regards to defense.

“I focus on staying aggressive and treating each ball as a new opportunity to attack the baseball and play it before it plays me,” he said. Staying mobile is one of the keys to being a good infielder and it is often easier said than done.

One way the team has worked on its defense is through live repetition at batting practice.

“We try to maximize every rep in practice and we tell our guys to treat each rep (fly ball/ground ball) in practice as if it were game like,” Coach Garcia said. “We spend a good amount of time in practice focusing on individual defense for each position and batting practice is a great time for our guys to get live reads off the bat.”

Even with live reads off the bat, errors are bound to happen during the game. Nobody is perfect and it is important to know how to move on from a bad play.

“You have to be able to separate from the negative anywhere in baseball,” Santos said. “Mistakes happen and they happen more often than not because baseball is a game of failure. Knowing that, it is important to always look forward to your next opportunity.”

With not too many opportunities left, the Wildcats look to make the most of them in these final six games. Defense has been a difference maker for the team thus far and this weekend will likely be no different.

Austin Schreiber can be reached at [email protected] or @aschreiber94 on Twitter.

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