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News for IWU’s Campus

IWU Baseball Finding Its Stride Under New Leadership

Midway through the 2024 season and in the midst of its conference schedule, the Wildcat baseball team sits at 19-9 and second in the Crossroads League

“We’re getting better every week,” Ian Macdonald, head baseball coach, said. “So far in the first half we’ve dealt with a handful of injuries on both sides of the ball, which has been challenging. But I think the positive of that is it gives opportunities to guys that have been preparing for opportunities.”

While injuries have occurred amongst the team, Quinn Willard, Luke Roman and Darian Pugh have all stepped up their games. 

“It’s been really cool to see some of our guys step up in huge ways, (guys) that weren’t even on the lineup card day one,” Luke Roman, a senior middle infielder, said. “Everyone is bought into playing with what we got and we believe that we can win with anyone on the field.” 

Roman’s defense has always been his calling card, but his offensive improvement has helped steady the Wildcats this year.

After hitting .205 his sophomore year and .199 his junior year, Roman’s batting average has jumped to .336, and his 14 extra-base hits lead the team. 

“For myself, I’ve always been a glove-first guy,” Roman said. “But it’s been cool to see just my improvement on the hitting side this year. I would just credit that to mentality. I feel like I’ve always been able to hit, but I’ve had a different mentality this year, realizing I’ve got to step up.” 

After serving as the pitching coach and associate head coach a season ago, Ian Macdonald took over head coaching duties after the departure of Rich Benjamin.

Indiana Wesleyan found success under Benjamin, winning the Crossroads League twice and the Crossroads League Tournament three times in his eight years. 

“I think the encouraging thing was that Rich had built a great foundation,” Macdonald said. “Even off of last year’s team, we returned 31 guys. So there were a lot of familiar faces. From the freshman class (last year) we returned 14 guys.”

The Wildcats are coming off of a season that saw them win the Crossroads League Tournament and make it to the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho. But with a new head coach, players said the expectations remained high. 

“I think the expectations were higher than ever,” Drue Young, a junior starting pitcher said. “Yeah we lost some guys, yeah we had a new coach, but at the same time we come in here with the same goal every season and that is to make it back to Lewiston and win a national championship.”

The Wildcats face a competitive stretch to end the conference schedule. After wrapping up a series with Bethel, the Wildcats will face Mount Vernon Nazarene, Taylor and Huntington, who all rank inside the top five in the conference.

Indiana Wesleyan will round out the season on the road against Spring Arbor before the conference tournament. 

“Obviously really good competition down the stretch,” Macdonald said. “I think what’s good is that we’re just continuing to get better and hopefully we’ll hit our peak potential at the right time down the stretch. And I think last year just shows you that anything can happen. We went into the conference tournament and found a way to win that… I don’t think you can ever look at a team and put accurate predictions on what it can be. I think if we keep on racing to the peak of our potential, anything can happen.”

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