The Northwestern baseball team knows how to succeed. For the past five years, NW has never finished lower than fourth place in the GPAC, including a third place finish last season.
Due to the amount of success they have had in the past, it would be expected that they would set high expectations for themselves.
For head coach Brian Wede, the team expectations this year are a bit different.
“What we want to accomplish is that we get better every day,” Wede said. “We don’t necessarily have goals of winning this or winning that. We just want to continue to grow every day and play our best baseball at the end of the year.”
While the team expectations may not be to win the GPAC or to win a certain amount of games, the ability to achieve these things is present. Senior Zach Cortese and junior Fernando Gutierrez have pivotal roles on this year’s squad, as well as sophomore catcher Grant Lang. Cortese and Lang are both strong hitters and have the ability to make something happen when they are up to bat. For Gutierrez, his smooth defense and presence at the mound make him a key player this season.
Behind Gutierrez in the starting rotation comes Lang, junior Chase Davis and sophomore Raphael DeHoyos. They are all competing to be the starter. Sophomore field players Reed Smith and Michael Callahan are making a big impression early on and hope to continue to do well as the season continues.
Coming out of the bullpen are a plethora of pitchers including freshman Colton Patterson.
“Patterson will come up big in games as a reliever,” Lang said.
For the freshman right-hander, the opportunity to come out of the pen is an exciting one.
“I am excited for the opportunity to get out there and show what I got and hopefully help out the team the best I can,” Patterson said.
NW has grasped the team mentality encompassing the concept that the team means more than the individual.
“We have a lot of guys that encourage each other,” junior outfielder Casey Guthmiller said. “A lot of guys already excel at playing whatever role they have been given and that’s really important to have.”
There is a lot of baseball to be played in the next four months. Whether that be the game on March 8 against D1 powerhouse University of Iowa or Sioux county rival Dordt College, NW is sure to be playing at their best. While they do not have a specific goal to win the GPAC or head to nationals, the Red Raider baseball team is sure to have success this season, carrying on the tradition of excellence on the diamond.