The BYU baseball team has found a way to turn around its season after only winning two of its first 12 games.
The turnaround began in the home opening series at Miller Park in March, when the 2-10 Cougars swept Hartford in their home opening series. The four-game winning streak was the beginning of a 9-2 tear through March 21, which saw them take two of three from Pepperdine and Gonzaga while winning a one-game series against UVU.
The team stumbled in four games straight against Utah and San Diego before rebounding against No. 29 San Diego State on March 30, bringing its March record to 10-6. The improved play currently has the team at 14–17 overall.
“We didn’t change much; we were playing really well against those ranked teams,” BYU baseball assistant coach Brent Haring said. “In later games we just got the key hits we needed, and that kind of momentum helped us to win more.”
The Cougars’ turnaround, in large part, can be traced to an offensive explosion from sophomore center fielder Brennon Lund and junior shortstop Hayden Nielsen, who are currently second and fourth, respectively, in total number of hits out of all WCC batters. Nielsen entered March with four RBI and no extra-base hits but has since had 20 RBI and and seven extra–base hits.
The only Cougar with a better month may be Lund, whose .382 March batting average was .138 points higher from where it was on Feb. 28, evening out his current number to .331.
“I came into the season with high expectations for myself and began to rush when I was at bat,” Lund said. “I realized that I needed to slow down and relax and just play like I did last season, and it has paid off.”
Also factoring into the turnaround are third baseman Dillon Robinson and rightfielder Eric Urry, who have since joined Nielsen and Lund in batting over .300 on the year.
“Everyone on the team is working at 100 percent during every practice and game, because we all have a common goal and know that we can reach it,” freshman catch Colton Shaver said. Shaver, a freshman, has also made his presence felt by belting four of his five home runs since Feb. 28, good for fourth-most homers in the WCC.
“It’s not necessarily expected that I hit a home-run when I get at bat,” Shaver said. “The coaches just hope that I get a hit when we need one and that I give 100 percent every time I am at bat.”
The Cougars have been focusing a lot on the small things during practice to make sure they stay comfortable with all aspects of the game. Both players and coaches have great expectations for the rest of the season.
“We are in a great spot in the conference, and it can only get better,” Lund said. “We know that we are going to win the games that we need to, and it is going to be a great season for us.”
After winning two out of three games against Portland last week, the Cougars will resume play at Miller Park for a single–game series against UVU on Tuesday, April 7. They’ll then travel to Los Angeles for three games against Loyola Marymount.