Demons gear up for grueling stretch
Washington baseball started off the season 1-3, but is now starting to pick up steam heading into the second half of the season.
Winners of five of their last eight, the Demons will enter a tough stretch of games that will see them play 12 games in 13 days, according to head coach Nathan Miller, and are just a few pieces off from having a truly complete team.
“We just need to find one or two more arms that can give us consistent strikes and get a couple more hitters to continue to develop,” Miller said. “We need to maintain the success that some of these guys are having, and tweak and improve a few guys in a few different areas to help us take the next step further.”
Standing at 6-6 this season, four of the Demon’s losses came by three runs or less, and Miller thinks that the team is starting to figure out the way to start turning those close losses into close wins.
“Until we play in those games, we won’t know exactly where we are at,” Miller said. “I feel like we are starting identifying the roles that each one of these guys wants to fill in to. We have a couple of pitchers throwing really well and a couple of guys who we are going to need to step up and throw better than they have been to give us a competitive game.”
Early on in the year, the Demons struggled on defense giving up 14 unearned runs in the first six games, but the team has stepped up in the field, cutting the number to seven in the next six.
A lot of the improvement can be seen when looking at senior shortstop Tanner Knupp who routinely is making big plays on defense.
“We made a couple positional changes,” Miller said. “Tanner has really stepped into the role of shortstop and done really well. When you talk about most improved from last year, he led us in errors last year, or close to that, and this year he has been (great) for us.”
Another change for the Demons came after Blake Weidman was moved from catcher back to his original position at third base due to an injury.
According to Miller, Jacob Green has started to get more comfortable in his role at second base, while Miller called senior Walker Breard “one of the best defensive first basemen in the conference.”
Breard isn’t too bad offensively either, as he leads the team in homeruns (3), RBIs (12), average (.457) and on-base percentage (.513), while tied for the team lead in hits (16) and doubles (3).
Three players are batting over .400 for the Demons, in Breard, Knupp (.406) and Green (.400).
On the mound, senior Elijah Wood has led the way with a 1-1 record and 0.72 ERA and 27 strikeouts, followed by freshman Zach Londberg, who is 3-0, with a no-hitter in his last start.
“Elijah has been an anchor so far pitching-wise, and I don’t want to say it was a surprise because he pitched well in JV for us last year, but Zach Londberg has pitched well for us,” Miller said. “There are a lot of tools these kids are providing for us.”
Washington will make up a doubleheader at Fort Madison tonight, after it was postponed due to rain on Thursday.