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Bears looks to prove voters wrong

UNC was picked to finish eighth in the nine team Western Athletic Conference

By Chris Bolin
On March 5, 2017

Jack Pauley, Sophomore Out Fielder, running into the dugout after scoring the first run of the game last Friday at Jackson Field. Photo by Alex Nunley |The Mirror

For the second straight year, the University of Northern Colorado baseball team was picked to finish eighth in the Western Athletic Conference. Now, for the second straight year, the Bears look to prove voters wrong.

Last year, Northern Colorado finished 16-34 overall and eighth in the WAC at 11-12, capped by two quick losses at the conference tournament.

The Bears return their best pitcher, second team All-WAC selection Nick Tanner, who finished 4-1 with a 2.89 ERA last year. He was also a major contributor on the offensive end, finishing second on the team in batting average, hitting .327 while adding seven doubles. 

The Bears also bring back the one person above him on the hitting charts, Dean Lawson. Lawson hit .357, last season, with a .428 on base percentage. 

The Bears also added 19 new faces to the roster this year.

One of those new faces, Aaron Hamilton, has already made a difference this season. Hamilton, who has been at UNC for nearly two years, but due to eligibility hasn’t taken the field until this year, tied a school record with 14 strikeouts in a two-hit shutout last Thursday against San Jose State.  

UNC is 6-7 so far this year, following a string of games in Northern California to start the season. 

Through nine games, redshirt freshman Jack Pauley leads the Bears in batting average at .371 and hits with 13, while also tying for the team lead with three doubles.

Cole Maltese has also been impressive early, batting .347 and leading the team in on base percentage at .450 and slugging percentage at .656.

That has to be a positive sign for coach Carl Iwasaki who insists his team will be better at the plate this year.

“We’re a team that’s going to be better than we were last year,” Iwasaki said. “We’re going to hit more.”

Currently, the Bears sit 188th out of 274 teams in batting average, hitting .250 as a team so far this season.

Though these early season matchups are a good chance to play teams that will probably be at regionals, conference play is what is most important.

“This team has the attitude and effort to make strides in the WAC when play begins,” Iwasaki said.

The Bears will play their next six on the road before opening up WAC play on March 24 when Sacramento State comes to town.

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