The hunt for four straight
No other sport values its history more than baseball. From hits to strikeout records, rewriting the history book is always a ceremony for fans of America’s great pastime.
Speaking of records, NDSU has a shot to break one of its own baseball records this season. Never before in the history of NDSU baseball has a class gone through their four-year career making the conference tournament every season. With three appearances down, this year’s class is one fantastic season away from leaving a profound mark on the baseball program.
The Bison made the Summit League tournament in 2011 and 2012, but last season it took incredible late-season heroics for the Bison to find themselves in a third-straight conference tournament. During the last series of the regular season against Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne, the Bison needed two wins to clinch a tournament berth. It was a memorable Saturday as the Bison walked-off with two victories and their ticket punched into the tournament. The Bison were the hottest team going into the tournament, but were finally cooled off when South Dakota State defeated them twice in the championship series.
The 2014 Bison aren’t just looking to make it back to the conference tournament this season. They are looking to win it all, which will be another first for the baseball program. Last year the Bison hardly sniffed the tournament with young bats in the lineup and two aces atop their rotation in John Straka and David Ernst. Senior second baseman Wes Satzinger believes, unlike last year, the 2014 Bison will be more balanced. “This year the consistency will come around,” said Satzinger. Playing in the championship the past two seasons, Satzinger senses something different about the 2014 ball club. “We’re the only team that has been there twice over the past two years. In the end, I think just a little bit of the extra edge and everyone has a chip on their shoulder.”
Head Coach Tod Brown agrees with Satzinger, saying with the amount of losses last year’s roster had to overcome from 2012, it was really an attest to the resilience of his players.
“It really came down to their hard work and dedication, and they needed more experience,” Coach Brown said. “Throughout the year they got more experience and really cashed it in predominately.” Unlike the impactful roster changes in 2013, the 2014.
One of those eight is first basemen Kyle Kleinendorst. The senior from Grand Rapids, Minn., knows it’s his last opportunity to complete his goal of making the NCAA Tournament, which will happen if the Bison can win their first Summit League title. Kleinendorst was a first team all-Summit League outfielder last year and remembers the shock of defeat over the last two championships. “We know the feeling that we have had for the past two seasons can’t happen again for a third time in a row.”
Satzinger and Kleinendorst are more than capable of leading the Bison to their fourth- straight Summit League tournament, but that piece of history won’t satisfy the seniors alone. They want the title and are ready to grind harder than any other team in the conference to be the only one remaining atop the Summit.