Northwest Baseball // Logan Rycraft

Senior Logan Rycraft has made starts in every game this season and has 102 catches with 47 putouts.

Northwest baseball fell victim to slow starts against Pittsburg State March 15-17, but the program now understands that a mental checkup is important for the remainder of the year.

The Bearcats dropped the first two in the three-game series against the Gorillas, and now know, they need to step back and start taking games one at a time.

During Game 1, Northwest fell behind due to its pitching staff and found no answer to the Gorillas starter Brad Kinsey as the Bearcats fell 10-0.

In the first game, Pittsburg State exposed the Bearcats, but in the next two games, Northwest showed potential. Game 2 was decided by one run as Northwest fell 3-2, and in Game 3, the Bearcats showed offensive firepower with a 9-1 victory.

“I think our guys stayed in a great frame of mind and stayed positive. I thought we got better as the weekend went on,” coach Darin Loe said. “I think we played really well on Sunday, I think what we are seeing is we have to show up on Friday a lot better and put together a full series.”

For the Bearcats, the original goal was to win the conference, the idea is still the same. The problem that ensues from being MIAA champions last year is the fact that sometimes the team can get ahead of themselves and overthink things.

“I don’t think there is pressure,” senior second baseman Mondesi Gutierrez said. “I just think we are overthinking everything right now and not playing our game.”

Game 3 showcased Northwest’s potential, not only as an offense but as a threat. Junior starting pitcher Joe Funkhouser pitched aggressive against the Gorillas and went five scoreless innings with four strikeouts.

As it sits, the weekend rotation starts with sophomore Max Spitzmiller, goes to junior Quintin Van Ackerson and finishes with Funkhouser. All three pitchers have shown flashes of being solidified starters but need to continue success in repetitious fashion.

“We are going to keep our staff this way for right now, with Spitzmiller on Friday, Q (Ackerson) on Saturday and Funk (Funkhouser) on Sunday. That seemed to work out well for our starting pitching as well as our bullpen,” Loe said. “I think all three of those guys have thrown well and guys that come out the bullpen have thrown well; we are just a little off.”

In the third game against Pittsburg State, the Bearcats showcased a potential that has been seen through various points in the season. Thus far, Northwest has played one full series to near perfection, while the others have seen either late starts to the series or the 'Cats haven't been able to finish."

The Bearcats this year have had a trend to get ahead of themselves and the inability to get the timing down on when to show up for a series.

“If we are worrying about wins and losses, our minds are in the wrong spot. What we got to do is just go in and compete,” Loe said. “We just need to come and play ‘cause this team is talented enough to win on any given day, just have to play the game the right way and keep our heads in the right spot.”

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