Tag Archives: Chico State Athletics

post-mortem exam for 2019 chico state baseball

A new format begins this year for the Division II NCAA West Region baseball tournament and sadly the Chico State Wildcats will not be part of it.

Last week’s 17-4 loss to Cal Poly Pomona ended what was a tumultuous Wildcat campaign that ultimately ended without them reaching their goal. Ironically, Pomona, a team that looked dead in the water for nearly two months, used the California Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament to find their mojo and win the tournament clinching the automatic bid to the regional.

Before we pick apart the 2019 season it should be noted how far this incarnation of the Wildcats came. The Cats got off to a terrible start, losing their first six conference games and sitting in last place before an improbable week on the road led to the resurrection of the season. In early March Chico won three games in one day at Cal State East Bay and then a few days later bussed down to Cal State San Bernardino and swept a four-game series to move from 0-6 to 7-6 and put themselves back in contention.

The Wildcats would proceed to play great baseball until things went sideways in the second game of a series in San Diego where Chico coughed up a 4-0 lead in the 7th at a game in La Jolla and would lose three-out-of-four in the series. Chico would play .500 baseball for a month before having a stellar final week of the year winning 7-of-8 including a thrilling four-game sweep of Sonoma State and an exciting final day sweep on the road of Stanislaus State vaulting into 3rd place in the CCAA.

Despite the strong finish the Cats success did not translate into a deep post-season run. Heading into the off-season there are more questions than answers and the Wildcat brain-trust have several issues that will need to be addressed if they want to get back to the NCAA West Regional

Head Coach Dave Taylor and his staff will be breaking down the season and roster to look at what went right and what went wrong. One thing we know from Coach T is he will do a full exam of the season and is not afraid to address trouble spots. This can be the tough part of coaching because in some cases you are dealing with good guys who are fun to be around, but in the grand scheme, if you don’t think the group can win a regional, changes are made. They have to be made, and in the nearly 25 years of Chico State Baseball, those changes can be swift.

There are specific areas where Chico State baseball came up short. Let’s see where they can improve…..

THROW STRIKES…..

If you saw Chico State fans (or radio guys) with hands clasped this season it was probably because we were praying for Wildcat pitchers to throw the ball over the plate. No Chico State team in the last 24 years walked more batters per game than the 2019 Chico State Wildcats . These freebies haunted Chico State all season long. Chico pitchers issued 230 walks over 49 innings translating into 4.69 walks/per game. The most walks Chico had issued per game in a season before the 2019 season was in 2016 when they issued 3.14 walks per game. The precipitous jump was too much to overcome and these free base runners cost Chico probably 8-12 games. When you throw in the 53 batters that Chico hurlers plunked the Wildcats put 5.77 runners on per game in the 2019 season and that doesn’t include hits. 32 of these 53 hit batsmen where from the bullpen. Usually when pitchers come in from out of the pen they enter with traffic on the base-paths. If they are hitting batters with runners on base, that usually is a predictor of bad news.

The stunning statistic is that Chico pitchers had the 3rd best batting average against out of the twelve teams in the CCAA. When Wildcat arms threw strikes, they were able to utilize their solid defense, get outs and win games. But, when they issued these freebies, winning became tougher, much tougher. Coach T saw the problem early, tried to fix it, but in the end it was a season long problem. The Wildcats will certainly be looking to address the lack of command and become better strike throwers next season.

MORE POP

The Wildcats play in a beautiful ballpark that is picturesque but most importantly fair. Pitchers certainly get a fair shake at The Nett. The yard symmetric dimensions with 330 down the lines, 375 to the alleys and 405 to dead center. During many home dates the wind is blowing in from left, giving pitchers a huge advantage making the ballpark feel bigger than it is. The Wildcats know that small ball will win you ballgames, win you regionals and can win you a Division II College World Series, but you do need to have a little pop.

Chico hit 13 home runs in 2019. This number was the fewest in the CCAA and ranked 26th out of 27 teams in the West Region. But, its not just home runs. The Wildcats only managed 94 extra-base hits in 49 games. This ranks 25th out of 27 teams in the region. The Wildcats slugging percentage of .368 ranked 19th out of 27 teams. It should be noted, you can win with power numbers like this, but a team’s margin for error is very slim when that one swing that can get you back in the game, isn’t there. There have been Chico teams who didn’t have a lot of power, but you can’t walk nearly 5 batters a game. The formula doesn’t work when you give away so many freebies.

Its a tough problem to solve because a team’s need for power can not outweigh their need to be a good defensive team. The Wildcats had defensive issues in 2018 and they addressed that with some great defensive additions in 2019. How much defense do you sacrifice to bring in sluggers ? Not an easy answer to this one.

It should also be noted that with Cal Baptist and Dixie State moving to Division I and with UC San Diego making the jump in 2021, the west has the feel of being wide open, but when you take a closer look there are some massive impediments to west region dominance. Azusa Pacific has hosted the last two D-II West Regionals and they are the top-seed this year. Azusa plays in a tiny, hitter friendly ball-park. Power is rewarded. High fly balls in the gaps that would be routine outs, 20 feet from the track at Nettleton Stadium are home runs at Azusa. To win regionals you may need to win at Azusa. The game is just different at that ballpark. So, balance is most definitely needed. You may not need home run hitters, but guys who hit doubles in gaps would certainly help.

I do not envy the Wildcat brain trust this year. 2019 feels like an outlier. We have never seen a year like this in recent Chico State baseball history. When breaking down the numbers its amazing Chico State won 28 games. The Wildcat players and coaching staff did an amazing job of rescuing a season that was set adrift in late February. They scratched, they clawed, they fought.

With that said, Dave Taylor said it best, “we don’t play for conference tournaments. We play for regional championships.” The Wildcats have an off-season full of important decisions. At this time next year, they do not want to be conducting end of season interviews with their players, they want to be preparing for the 2020 West Regional

*Image courtesy of Chico State Athletics http://www.chicowildcats.com

Salem Bound: Chico State Softball begins pursuit of big prize…

The Chico State Softball team has been magical for three months and three weeks. If they can be magical for another week they have a chance to wrap up an amazing season with some hardware.

The 55-4 Wildcats left for Salem, Virginia Tuesday morning as they chase a Division II Softball National Championship. Chico rolled through their CCAA competition for much of the year, but faced stiff challenges in their sub-regional and Super Regional match-ups.

Two weeks ago Northwest Nazarene took a 2-0 lead into the 5th inning of the sub-regional opener before the Wildcats responded with a win. Then, the Cats battled to a scoreless tie versus Cal Baptist in the winners bracket game before winning 3-0. Then, to wrap up the sub-regional the Cats had to rally again for a 7-2 victory over Cal Baptist.

Last week’s Super Regional was a thriller as the Cats had to battle in a decisive third game. This time rallying from a 2-0 deficit in the 3rd inning of the title tilt. Chico would emerge with a 4-3 win on the guts of all-world hurler Haley Gilham and three home runs that propelled Chico to Salem.

The Wildcat women have been methodically dominant in the 2018 campaign using the long ball for a school record 61 home runs. Karli Skowrup and Baily Akins have each hit 14 home runs while Skowrup is 13th in the nation with 64 runs batted in.

Kristin Worley leads the Cats with a .385 batting average and a .474 on base percentage while Amanda Flores (.369) Skowrup (.368) and Ari Marsh (.356) are all hitting over .350

In this, the 50th year of Chico State Wildcat Softball the Wildcats are trying to do what only one other team was able to accomplish and that is win the softball national title. Back in 1980, the Wildcat program was not part of the NCAA, but they would capture the national championship. Chico won the West Regional on 2002 making their only other trip to the national tournament in the school’s history.

9th year head coach Angel Shamblin has built quite the program. The Wildcats have been consistent winners over the years but it has all come to fruition in the 2018 campaign. The combination of exemplary pitching, power bats and an unwavering toughness and grit has Chico on the brink of a national title.

Their quest begins on Thursday, games you can hear on the KpaySports app (download for free in app store) right here on KpaySports.com and on your Amazon Echo device with the skill of, “hey Alexa, play KpaySports dot-com.” Your Wildcat pregame comes your way at 3:25 from the KpaySports studios with first pitch slated for 3:30pm

For a more detailed account of the Wildcats amazing journey, click the link below to read the Chico State National Tournament preview written by Rory Miller

http://www.chicowildcats.com/news/2018/5/21/softball-wildcats-head-to-salem-looking-to-make-50th-year-the-most-historic-of-all.aspx?path=softball

 

PHOTO COURTESY of ChicoWildcats.com

Big weekend for Basketball, Baseball and Softball for Chico State

As the Chico State basketball teams enter the home stretch, the Wildcat baseball and softball teams open their 2018 seasons this weekend.

The Chico State Softball team was picked to finish 2nd by the conferences coaches. The Cats are coming off of an impressive 39-18 season where they advanced to their third straight NCAA Championship Tournament. The Wildcats will be trying to do something they have never done and that is advance to four straight NCAA Championships. The season opens in Las Vegas where the Wildcats will play five games in three days.

Feb 2 vs Eastern New Mexico & Academy of Art

Feb 3 vs Azusa Pacific & Western Washington

Feb 4 vs Concordia

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The Chico State Baseball team opens their 2018 season with a three game home series against the Fresno Pacific Sunbirds. Chico is coming off of a record-setting regular season in going a CCAA record 34-4. They captured the regular season and post-season conference tournament titles, only to fall in the West Regional. The Cats were picked by the conference coaches to win their third straight CCAA title.

To do it the Cats will have to replace a ton of offense which made the Wildcat lineup as potent as we’ve seen in years. Chico does return the CCAA Player of the Year Cameron Santos and a stable of power arms that should ease the transition. Head coach Dave Taylor is excited by several of the new faces that will dot the Wildcat lineup that should have the Cats in the mix again.

Chico opens with a double-header on Friday at 12 noon and a single game at 12 noon on Saturday. You can hear the Friday games on the KpaySports app and right here

http://radio.securenetsystems.net/v5/KPAY

at 11:40am on Friday. We are on the app, website and on AM-1290 KPAY on Saturday at 11:40am as well.

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The Chico State Basketball teams are in action this week as well.

The Chico women 10-9 overall and (8-7) in CCAA play look to break a three game losing streak. Whitney Branham is averaging better than 18 points a game and hopes to lead the Cats to more home success on Thursday night against Monterey Bay. Women will tip at 5:30pm with our pre-game at 5:06pm on AM-1290 KPAY. The women host Cal State East Bay on Saturday at 5:30pm

The Chico State men are rolling. After losing three straight games over an eight day stretch from Dec 31-Jan 6th the Cats have won five in a row, including a double-header sweep of  Dominguez Hills and Cal State Los Angeles on the road last weekend.

Chico is 14-5 overall and 11-4 in the CCAA. They host Monterey Bay at 7:30pm on Thursday and East Bay on Saturday