KLAMATH FALLS, Ore.—In the midst of a mild winter, the Oregon Tech baseball team is set to open the 2018 season more prepared than it typically is.
Year in and year out, the Owls get their first outdoor baseball activity during their first game. But for the first time in recent memory, Oregon Tech hasn’t been snowed in and instead has spent the winter months practicing outside.
It’s a luxury that head coach Matt Miles thinks will pay major dividends.
"That takes away a lot of the issues we have getting outside first day--guys not reading fly balls very well, guys having trouble being back in natural light,” Miles said. “Every chance we get to get out here and throw in weather and actually get a full infield and outfield, where guys are doing cuts and relays… I'll tell you the first day of practice wasn't pretty and seven days outside later we look like a team ready to go out on Friday and play."
The players echoed his sentiment.
"Outdoors you actually get to see the ball fly and you get to read it off of the backdrop of the sky rather than rafters of a ceiling," senior outfielder Blake Wrotenbery said.
"There's no snow and that's a big deal for the Klamath Falls area so having the chance to be out here, even if it's just the soccer field, having the chance to take live reads off of a bat has been very beneficial," senior right-handed pitcher Doug Molzahn said.
A playoff team a year ago for the first time since 2013, Miles expects Oregon Tech to look even better out of the gates in 2018.
"I think we're going to be better,” Miles said. “And I think we're going to take another step forward and our goal is to get to Phoenix and play in the regional tournament and win that and go onto the national tournament. That's a goal that I would say that three years ago, getting to the playoffs would be a huge deal. Now we want to take the playoff situation and move on."
The Owls open their season with 20 consecutive games on the road before their home opener on March 17.