Oregon baseball will be heading to Las Vegas on Friday for the season opener, looking to prove that they will be a better team this year. Not only have they been unranked this season but they are known for losing a lot of money in PK Park.
Then-athletic director Pat Kilkenny cut the wrestling program in 2009 so they can work on improving the baseball team facilities and recruiting. The Daily Emerald released analytics last year that by the end of the season, if you “divide the teams yearly net loss by its number of games, the Ducks lose about $40,000 for every game they play” (Jacoby). Not only are they losing money, but the low attendance to games are causing ticket sales drop nearly 50 percent. By ending last year with a 30-35 record, it will be difficult to earn the respect of others this upcoming season.
Looking on the brighter side, they have 3 returning infielders. In the corners of the diamond are sophomores Gabe Matthews and Spencer Steer, while senior Kyle Kasser gets moved to second base. They are not only the heart of the infield, but their bats were on fire last season. They were the team’s leading hitters last season hoping that will give the rookies someone to look up to.
After losing standout pitcher David Peterson, the Ducks will need Rye Nelson to step up—a player who just converted to the position last year. He has become a utility player for the Ducks with being thrown in to shortstop and occasionally second base. Unfortunately, he hurt his arm in the middle of last season, but he spent this past summer in his hometown playing for the American Legion team and came back a whole new player. Nelson is 6-foot-3 and can throw up to speeds of 97 mph.
Team veteran and senior Kyle Kasser caught up with www.goducks.com and said, “We’re not ranked or anything; no one’s looking for us to do anything big. We’re gonna be overlooked, but that might be a good thing for us. We’re just going to go play our game and see how we fare.”
Despite the UO baseball team heading in all the wrong directions, it sounds as if the team remains optimistic on the field and behind the scenes. They have a solid infield and a great pitching rotation for the 2018 season helping those hopes turn into reality.