By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
When Seward faces Iowa Western in the first round of the NJCAA College World Series Saturday in Grand Junction, Colo., it won’t be the first time to the two teams have played this year.
Iowa Western traveled to Liberal to face the Saints on Valentine’s Day. Iowa Western won Game 1 12-0, but the Saints took Game 2 8-2.
That double header might as well be ancient history for both teams.
When they meet in Grand Junction, the stakes will be much higher than a frigid early season match-up.
“Neither of us was playing as good as we have ben lately,” Seward coach Galen McSpadden said. “We can play with them. If we do everything we are supposed to do, we feel good about our opportunity.”
Seward’s approach to the game will be much like his approach has been all season. To follow the cliche, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
The national champion will have to win seven games during the next two weeks, but trying to create a different strategy is usually not the road to success.
“We’re not going to outguess ourselves,” McSpadden said. “You have to win the first one, then the second. We will go with our normal rotation.”
While some years are considered strong for the field of teams at the national tournament, and others weak, McSpadden said that the 2011 field was the best remaining competition in the nation.
“It is the 10 that are left,” he said. “We have to go in there expecting everyone to have one or two (pitchers) that can beat anybody. You have to play the whole game, play defense and score some runs.”
San Jacinto and Howard, two perennial baseball powerhouses, did not make the tournament, but that was not a sign to McSpadden that it was a weaker field.
“Other programs are now as good,” he said.
Playing at Brent Gould Field should be an advantage for the Saints at the national tournament.
While both Brent Gould Field and Sam Suplizio Field in Grand Junction are 400 feet to center, the wall heights are vastly different.
Brent Gould has a 15-foot-tall wall that makes it difficult to hit home runs to center, but no such wall exists at Grand Junction.
“I wouldn’t call it a hitter’s or pitcher’s park,” McSpadden said. “It is a decent size park. Routine fly balls won’t go out, but it will allow you to score some runs.”
Another change that has been made this season has been the deadening of the bats, which should also limit the number of home runs.