The Wartburg Baseball team has seen a big turn around in their play over the last couple of weeks.
The team began their season just 6-7 in their first thirteen games, a stark contrast to the 34-13 record the team posted last year, but did go a through recent stretch where they won nine straight games. Head coach Joel Holst said the winning streak was due partially to the improved offense.
“Our pitching’s been good, our defense has been good, but we have hit the ball a lot better over the past couple of weeks,” Holst said.
According to Holst, close games have been a problem at times this season, Wartburg is just 5-4 in games decided by one run.
The team has, however, seen some breakout performances this year including senior Sam Van Fleet and juniors David Fitzgerald and Austin Bohling.
Bohling has established himself as one of the best pitchers on the team and has been lights out for the Knights this season. The lefty is leading the team with a 1.89 ERA and has averaged a strikeout per inning pitched on the year. He said the recent success is helped by the team’s yearly Florida trip.
“The trip really helped us prepare for what lies ahead in conference,” Bohling said. “I like the direction that we’re headed in.”
Both Bohling and Holst said the non-conference schedule was a little difficult this year because they wanted to establish themselves as a top team early on in the year.
“To be the best, you got to beat the best,” Bohling said.
The Knights had some problems this past weekend in a series against the arch-rival Luther Norse. After winning the first game 3-0 on Friday, Wartburg was swept in two games, Saturday afternoon.
Even with the losses, however, Wartburg is still in a tie for first place in the Iowa Conference and after winning back to back regular season conference titles, the experience factor is on their side.
Wartburg will have to keep up their recent hot play moving into the heart of conference play as both Dubuque and Buena Vista have both gotten off to fast starts as well.
The Knights set the record last season for most wins in conference play with 24 and may need a similar performance this year to threepeat as IIAC Champions.
Holst said the team cannot overlook teams and has to be prepared for each game.
“We have to be ready to go every time because the league is very competitive,” Holst said.
Wartburg’s next game will come on Tuesday, April 11 when they travel to Simpson to complete their season series with the Storm.