Grizzlies vie for late berth into Summit tournament

Professional baseball players may be known as “the boys of summer”, but at Oakland —like many other college campuses — spring is the season for baseball.

The 2011 season has been a challenging one for the Golden Grizzlies. However, there are several positives that occurred over the course of the season.

For senior infielder D.J. Jarrad, the biggest highlight of the season has been winning a four game series against Western Illinois after losing the previous two to IPFW and North Dakota State.

Oakland outscored Western Illinois 20-10 in its three wins combined.

“We had tough losses in both the North Dakota State University and Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne series and we could of just thrown in the towel but we came out, played some really good baseball and took 3 of 4 from Western Illinois,” Jarrad said. This statement also emphasizes how the Grizzlies have refused to give up despite suffering 14 losses by three runs or less.

“It is very tough going out there day in and day out knowing that we have lost so many close games,” Jarrad said. “The biggest thing with us is that we know that no matter what has happened we need to put it behind us and play until the last out of the last game.”

Jarrad believes that the greatest strengths for the team this season have been its pitching and defense.

“The pitching staff has done a great job with throwing strikes, they have kept us in every game,” he said. “Our defense has been strong as well.”

Additionally, Jarrad believes that a large part of the pitching staff’s success has been its confidence in the defense. Offensively, Oakland has shown the ability to hit well and produce runs, but has struggled with consistency.

“The biggest thing that we need to work on is consistency with our hitting,” Jarrad said. “Overall, we have hit very well but have been streaky.”

Oakland began the season with a tough three game series on the road against

Oklahoma, then ranked number four nationally. Though the Grizzlies lost all three games in Norman, the team came away from the series with valuable experience.

“It is an extremely important experience for us each year to go down and play nationally ranked teams during our spring trip,” Jarrad said. “Not only playing against the top competition but being able to experience the atmosphere, with sold out crowds and big stadiums.”

Jarrad also believes that facing a team such as Oklahoma is the best way to help the team prepare for the Summit League portion of the season.

“We haven’t played our best baseball yet and to still be in the hunt for the conference tournament, that’s a great sign,” Jarrad said.

Over the weekend, Oakland faced Oral Roberts, dropped the first three games, but were able to salvage the last game 6-4.

The Grizzlies continued their winning ways in a 12-inning 6-5 victory over Toledo on Tuesday.

Oakland will finish the regular season on the road with a game against Central Michigan in between two series against Summit League rivals Southern Utah and Centenary College with an outside chance to make the Summit League Tournament.

“We haven’t played our best baseball yet and to still be in the hunt for the conference tournament, that’s a great sign,” Jarrad said.