BYU baseball fell 6-5 to Pacific in its final game of the season May 19, 2018, bringing the Cougars ending record to 22-28. Nonetheless, 20 newly signed players and an addition to the coaching staff bring hope for improvement in the 2019 season.
“The guys going in different directions was one of our issues last year,” Littlewood said. “And we need to have everyone on the same page. That’s the one thing that we are pushing this year.”
Littlewood pointed out there is often a heavier focus on individual stats as opposed to team stats, even though baseball is a team sport.
“We’re working on making sure that everyone understands their role,” Littlewood said. “Baseball is different because there are so many individual stats based on individual performance, but you have to come together as a team.”
With a new season comes new hands on deck. In August, Littlewood announced the hiring of BYU’s new pitching coach, Michael Bradshaw. Prior to accepting his position at BYU, he worked as the assistant director of baseball operations at the University of Arizona. He welcomed the opportunity to join the Cougars.
“We played the University of Arizona and Utah Valley this fall, and it showed that we can play man for man with just about anybody,” Bradshaw said. “It stood out to me that we have a very athletic group.”
Bradshaw’s pitching shined during his two-year run at the University of Nevada, Reno. His experience as a college athlete shaped his persona as a coach.
“I’d say building relationships is a huge piece of my coaching style,” Bradshaw said. “I like to build to what’s in their best interest and help them be the best version of themselves.”
When pausing to reflect on the team’s plans for the season, Bradshaw spoke simply.
“We don’t like to talk about long term goals too much, but our number one goal for our guys is to get one percent better every day,” Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw and Senior Blake Inouye share common ground. In addition to both being pitchers, Inouye carries Nevada roots as well. Prior to transferring to BYU his junior year, he attended the College of Southern Nevada. Inouye has already recognized improvement in Bradshaw despite spending only a short time with him.
“Now that Bradshaw is here, my arm strength is a lot better,” Inouye said. “I noticed that I’m making less mistakes with my pitches and I’m able to throw the ball where I want to without too much trouble.”
Coming together as a team for the first time, the Cougars start their season off with a three-game series in Mesa, AZ, against Northwestern on Feb. 15.