While still focusing on the present, Coach Day forsees a positive future for UNK baseball
The UNK baseball team is off to a winning 16-5 record and an 11-2 record in the RMAC for the 2011 season. Head coach Damon Day took time to talk about the expectations for this season, how it’s gone so far and what to look for in the coming years.
Has this season gone the way the way you thought it would thus far?
Yeah. We have played well at times, and we haven’t played well at times. We jumped out and had a great weekend. We went 3-1 against Wayne State, which is a big rival, and the next weekend we played Missouri Western and jumped out to a big lead in game two. But, we couldn’t quite hold it, so we split the series. Then we had a tough road trip down to New Mexico Highlands, went 2-2. That may not sound great, but when you have to go that far and have to play that type ball game you get kind of long and drawn out and tired so it was good for us. We could have easily come out of there 1-3 but found a way to win two to even the series.
Who is the one guy on this team that you feel has really stood out and become the leader?
Without a doubt it’s Brandon Buchanan. He’s our shortstop and has an amazing year for us so far offensively. Defensively, he’s done everything we could ask. He had to sit out last year because of injury, so for him to come back and have the start of the season that he has had is great. I’m just really proud of him.
This Program has been so successful in the RMAC over the past few years. Do you expect that success to carry over to the MIAA right away?
I think we can continue on being successful. Are we going have level of success that we did in the RMAC? I don’t know. It’s a tougher and better conference, and it’s an exciting opportunity for us as a program. I’m excited for the opportunity, but I don’t think we can grade it on regionals and conference championships. I think we have to grade it on the experiences of our young people and the level of competition we have as a program— and I don’t mean to sound like regional berths and conference championships aren’t the main goal—but, at the end of the day we’re going to find ourselves playing in a better conference, which is going to give us an opportunity to be better so when we get to those regionals it will make it that much more exciting.
How have you been able to sell the MIAA to recruits even with another year of RMAC play remaining?
It sells itself with the type of ball players that we are recruiting. If you don’t want that challenge of playing against the best of the best, then you’re not going to fit in here very well.
Who is that one team that you’re really looking forward to playing in the MIAA?
Playing Emporia State— I got to know coach Fornelli when he was coaching in the RMAC at Fort Hays State, then he went on to coach at Emporia. He runs a first- class program there— one of the best in the nation and undefeated right now. He’s a good man and good coach, and I’m excited to get the opportunity to see how we can do against them.
UNO is more than likely moving to Division 1 in athletics. What are your thoughts on losing a rival like that?
You know it’s a frustrating thing because I think they could have done some things to help some people along the way, mainly us, to let them know this was the direction they were going. We made plans to move into the MIAA with the thought the UNO was going to be in that conference as well. UNO was going to be a natural rival, a nice travel partner, and it was going to be beneficial thing for both schools. I just think at some point an administrator somewhere owed us enough to pull us aside and tell us they may not be there in the future, but they didn’t chose to do that. But as I always say, best of luck to them, and I hope they get what they want out of that move.
D1 and D2 schools do play each other occasionally. Is there any talk of possibly playing them in the future?
I doubt it, with all that’s going on between the two schools.