Players buying in before Myers’ first season

Assistant Coach Blake Allen talks to catchers during WKU’s baseball team practice on Wednesday, January 25, inside the WKU baseball hitting facility.

Kurt Carson

A team’s strength is usually found in its offense, defense or pitching staff.

But new head coach Matt Myers is boasting about something in this year’s WKU squad easier seen in the locker room than on the field.

He said the team’s “cohesiveness” has stood out to him since the team began practicing earlier in the month.

“The number one thing I’ve been telling people is the cohesiveness of this club,” Myers said. “It’s the closest team we’ve had since the 2009 team in my five years here.”

Myers is in his first year as head coach of the Toppers after serving the past four years as an assistant on the WKU staff.

He replaced Chris Finwood, who departed to Old Dominion to become head coach there last summer.

Senior outfielder Ryan Hutchison said Myers has brought that philosophy to the team.

“He’s been preaching about the team effort and how close our locker room is,” Hutchison said. “I think everyone has kind of bought into it. Now it’s just about going out and doing it.”

Myers said the ultimate goal for the season is a postseason run, something the Toppers haven’t been part of since a trip to the NCAA Regionals in 2009. He said the key to getting back is for everyone to buy into the team.

“I think [cohesiveness] goes a long way when your expectations are to compete for a championship, not only in the Sun Belt Conference but to get to the postseason and compete for a national championship,” Myers said. “To do that, you have to get everyone on the same page — coaches, staff, trainers, weight coaches and players.

“They can’t think of themselves before the team, and I think this club has really bought into the team.”

Junior pitcher Tanner Perkins agreed that the team is the closest he’s experienced.

“It’s a much more positive attitude on the team,” Perkins said. “We do our work, but it’s much more simple and everybody gets their work done. It’s a better feeling as a team in the locker room.”

Myers said he’s excited to see how this team overcomes tough challenges together.

He held individual meetings with each player, and he said the biggest thing he told them was that the locker room needs to stay as tight as it is right now to obtain the success they’re looking for.

“These guys have taken each other in,” Myers said. “They understand how important each other are in helping us have success. These guys have a passion to play the game, a passion to work and a passion to win.”

WKU begins the season on Feb. 17 at home in a three-game weekend series against Toledo.

Myers said the cohesiveness of the team may not play a key role on opening weekend because everyone will be “juiced” to play, but it’ll be important down the stretch, where the Toppers struggled in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

“When you get to the late part of the season and you’ve hit finals, you’ve hit a losing streak, you’ve got things not going the way you want, will we stay consistent and hang in there?” Myers said. “I think we will.”