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Storm Report: Baseball

The Storm baseball team practices for an upcoming game. Photos by Saul Rodriguez.

It’s mid-spring and the Chemeketa Storm baseball team is nearing the end of its slate of in-conference games.

After a strong showing during the non-conference preseason, in which the team accumulated a promising record of 15 wins and six losses, the Storm have gone 11-13 in conference games, earning Chemeketa the fourth place spot in the South Region of the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) with one non-conference game left on the schedule.

While any competitor will say that every game is important, games against conference rivals hold greater significance because they determine which teams make it into the playoffs and which teams have an early start to their off-season.

“We’ve got a preseason that doesn’t count toward our standings, but gives us a great opportunity to develop players, to get in shape,” Storm baseball Head Coach Nathan Pratt said. “So now we’ve had our first weekend of conference play, they start to matter. So now it’s whoever can come out on top of the South region.”

The team should be looking to channel the successes from the preseason into their upcoming playoff run, as the Storm clinched a playoff berth as of May 16th. Coach Pratt addressed what he believes have been the strengths of his team this season.

“Well, number one, we got a really disciplined group. You can see [it] from the classroom to the baseball field…and our offensive production has exceeded our expectations and that’s really carried us to this point in the season,” said Coach Pratt.

Keeping up the offensive production will prove critical for this Chemeketa squad. According to the team statistics page on the official website of the NWAC, the Storm ranked eighth out of the 28 teams in the NWAC with a batting average of .292 during the preseason slate of games. Since conference play began, their batting average has declined to .244, dropping the Storm to 21st. While this is certainly not the sole reason why the team’s in-conference record does not reflect the success experienced during the preseason, it does represent a decline in the offensive production that was characteristic of their early success.

This is just the kind of adversity that will test the mental discipline of the team, an aspect of this year’s team that has made an impression on Coach Pratt.

“I never expect it because they’re 18 and 19 year old kids who are still learning how to become men and how to handle their emotions. And because there is so much failure in baseball, I think that we’ve showed a very, very mature emotional energy management from the standpoint that we don’t get too high, we don’t get too low, and if bad things happen, it doesn’t really change us,” said Coach Pratt. “I think that speaks to the success we’ve had, and that we’re going to have.”

And it’s this maturity that gives Coach Pratt hope for the rest of the season.

“Well I’m very optimistic. One, we’ve got some great athletes who are skilled, and we’ve played fairly well to this point. But what I’m most optimistic about is when we’ve struggled we’ve learned quickly and we’ve been resilient.”

The Storm play their last scheduled game before playoffs begin on May 19, with a match-up against Skagit Valley.

All statistics and schedule information was acquired from the baseball page on the NWAC official website.