Fall practices concluding with World Series; food on the line

Nick Bratcher

To wrap up fall scrimmages, the WKU baseball team is holding an inter-squad World Series with more than pride at stake — namely their stomachs.

The series consists of five games running from  Tuesday through Saturday, with 5 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday games to finish fall ball.

Head Coach Chris Finwood said he knows how to keep his men motivated as the end of fall practice approaches.

“They are competing because we compete for some pretty interesting prizes,” Finwood said. “But they are also having fun with it.”

The winner of the fall classic will have a dinner following Saturday’s game composed of steaks and potatoes. The losers will have hot dogs and baked beans. Even worse, the losing team will become servers at the winning team’s victory feast.

But the inter-squad series is merely the final product of continuous fall practices dating back to Labor Day.

Finwood said the fall has been a long process.

“The goal of our fall program is to first, teach the new guys how to practice, what our systems are, terminologies are and try to get them up to speed on how to practice,” he said. “It usually takes the first month and a half just to get that done.”

But Finwood has seen improvement in the Toppers, especially from second baseman Ivan Hartle, a junior transfer from Iowa Western. Finwood singled Hartle out as a very intelligent kid and great teammate.

Hartle was given Junior College Defensive Player of the Year honors last season and named Junior College World Series MVP.

Echoing Finwood’s statements about the main objective of fall practice, Hartle agreed that learning the new system was his greatest struggle.

“It’s a little different,” he said. “It wasn’t really hard, but just learning the new routines was something I had to get used to.”

And of the returning Toppers, Finwood said junior shortstop Logan Robbins has grown the most this fall.

“Logan Robbins has had an outstanding fall at shortstop and has turned himself into a pretty good professional prospect,” Finwood said. “He would be the one guy that stands out in the returning guys.”

Robbins credits individual discipline and the fall drills for his improvement.

“We spend a lot of time on our own inside the cages doing stuff we need to work on,” Robbins said. “And as a team we do different drills that attack what we’re weak at and do them until we perfect them.”

The duo’s improvement bodes well for WKU, as Finwood said the second purpose of fall practices is to sort personnel into starting positions and fill gaps from last season.

“Obviously, you start by looking at your returning group first and then see what spots you’re needing to fill, and things change from year to year, too,” he said.

But Finwood said nothing is concrete heading into the regular season, which begins Feb. 18 against Bowling Green State.

“I don’t think you ever figure out everything you want to figure out through scrimmages,” he said.

So for the final week of fall scrimmages, Finwood is enjoying the moment in the inter-squad World Series.

“It lets us as coaches step back and watch them a little bit — watch them coach themselves a little bit and enjoy the competition,” he said.

And this World Series will provide just that.

After all, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.