Something different is following this year’s baseball team. They have yet to take the field for a regular-season game, but the winning attitude is there. You would never guess that the program has averaged 16 wins in the past seven seasons, nor the team has lost a few key players for various reasons. Nothing is getting to them.
Sophomore pitcher Andrew Mahalik explains his reasoning behind the difference “ it’s dedication, focus and cooperation. We are a unit instead of being a group of individuals. Everyone has the same goals and we are on the same page. Working together.”
Eastern is coming off a season where new standards were set, and goals were accomplished. The Golden Eagles fielded Scenic West conference player of the year Craig Brinkerhoff, who is now serving a full-time church mission, placed fourth in the conference tournament and scored 41 runs in that same tournament.
This year’s squad is based around the sophomore heavy pitching staff. Leading the way of the pitching staff is Kort Christoffersen, who recently committed to Dixie State. “ We have great expectations, I feel like our pitching staff has great leaders and guys who have been there, done that and know exactly what it takes to get the job done at this level,” said Christoffersen. Rounding out the rotation are sophomores Tory Ulibarri, a hard-throwing left-hander; Jordan Hepworth: sophomore from Sugar City, ID and freshman lefty Joe Barta. Last year’s record setting closer, Kody Christoffersen, is also back.
Offensively the team brings back first basemen Nuho Kraja, who hit .339 as a freshman. Kraja will be a leader amongst the hitters, as most of the hitters are freshman. “We are going to be one of the hardest teams to beat in the league, it’s a new year and seeing is believing,” said Kraja. USU Eastern upgraded their baseball team over the break by adding a few transfers in Alex Church (Dixie State), and Hayden Basinger (Utah Valley University). Shortstop Chance Abrath, who had a great fall season, will also be a key figure to the Golden Eagle baseball team. Head coach Scott Madsen stated, “I am excited to see what this team can do when the season starts, we have a lot of players who will have breakout seasons like Ben Kraja and Denver Hansen.”
The Golden Eagles have a full schedule for the first time in a decade as they will play the full 56-game allotment. Their non-conference schedule includes; Dawson Community College (Montana), Pima Community College (Arizona), Northeastern Junior College (Colorado), Scottsdale Community College (Arizona) and a four-game set against the Canadian JUCO National Champs Prairie Baseball Academy.
The baseball season-opener is a double-header next Saturday Jan. 28 against Utah Valley University’s club team. The team will be coached by assistant coach KC Smurthwaite as head coach Scott Madsen serves out a two-game suspension.
The games will be in Price at the baseball complex at 800 North and 1100 East. Admission is free with your student ID.
USU Eastern 2012 Baseball Schedule
Date Opponent Location Time
Jan. 28* Utah Valley University Club Price, UT 11:30
Feb. 2 Pima CC Henderson, NV 10:00
Feb. 2 Scottsdale CC Henderson, NV 2:00
Feb. 3 Northeastern Junior College Henderson, NV 10:00
Feb. 3 Pima CC Henderson, NV 2:00
Feb. 18* Utah State University Club Price, UT 12:00
Feb. 24-25* Prairie Baseball Academy St. George, UT 12:00
Mar. 2-3* College of Southern Idaho Price, UT 12:00
Mar. 9-10* Western Nevada College Carson City, NV 12:00
Mar. 14* Dawson CC Price, UT 12:00
Mar. 16-17* Colorado Northwestern CC Price, UT 12:00
Mar. 23-24* Salt Lake CC Salt Lake City, UT 12:00
Mar. 30-31* College of Southern Nevada Price, UT 12:00
Apr. 6-7* College of Southern Idaho Twin Falls, ID 12:00
Apr. 13-14* Western Nevada College Price, UT 12:00
Apr. 20-21* Colorado Northwestern CC Rangely, CO 12:00
Apr. 27-28* Salt Lake CC Price, UT 12:00
May 4-5* College of Southern Nevada Henderson, NV 12:00