CSU club baseball has high expectations heading into 2018 season

Sergio Santistevan

The time for Colorado State University club baseball to win their seventh National Club Baseball Association National Championship could be close.

Players gather around home plate and celebrate their win
The team celebrates winning the first of four games against Wyoming on Saturday. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

Coming off a 28-9 record, a conference title and an appearance in the national tournament, the Rams are bound to take another leap this season.

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The starting lineup is full of talent with a roster of young players. However, the Rams will look to build off the leadership and experience of proven players. Mack Morford, who was named third-team All-American last season, looks to add to his resume in his final year of eligibility. Morford is a senior pitcher, catcher and infielder.

Junior Brandon DeLay and Jace Evans will anchor the outfield in 2018. Starting pitchers Phelan Castellano and Jared Van Vark are both coming off successful 2017 seasons. Senior pitcher Brad Johnson, who was named first-team All-Region last year, will also be a big contributor for the Rams.

The key piece to CSU’s national championship dreams, though, is Jake Walker. Walker is in his final season with the Rams and aims to reach his third World Series since joining the team. This year is different than previous years for Walker. The fourth-year player has taken on a large role. In club baseball, every team must fill the team president position. The president fulfills day-to-day operations of the team and is essentially the team captain.

After transitioning from assistant coach to head coach last season, Troy Tolar is feeling comfortable about this team’s identity and new culture.

Tolar is a former national champion for the Rams and knows what it takes to get to the top of the mountain. Unfortunately for the Rams, they haven’t been to the championship game since 2010. Tolar believes that this year’s team has what it takes and can be holding the trophy at the end of the season.

“There are high standards since winning six national championships,” Tolar said. “I think part of it is bringing that culture back…We’re a little younger, but talent wise we have all the pieces to be successful.”

Even though his team hasn’t been able to practice outside much because of the weather, Tolar is excited for the season to start and get their feet wet.

The Rams will begin their quest for their seventh national championship on Feb. 3 when they head to Lamar Community College for a season-opening doubleheader. The Lopes defeated CSU during the opening portion of the 2017 season.

No matter what destiny has in store in for this year’s team, Tolar has one main goal as a coach.

“The biggest thing is making sure they are having fun playing the game,” Tolar said.

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