Team expecting a home run this year

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Pitcher Paul Townsend and the Marquette club baseball team expect to contend for a conference title this year.

While the Milwaukee Brewers’ season pushes towards its conclusion and captivates many on Marquette’s campus, the season is just beginning for one group of baseball-loving students: the Marquette club baseball team.

Marquette’s club baseball team uses the fall to tune up and prepare for its spring season by taking on different NCAA Division III and club programs including rival Wisconsin-Milwaukee and even international opponents like Lakehead University out of Ontario, Canada.

At the end of the fall, the Golden Eagles, who play at the Division I club level, will put their nine best on the field and start their quest for a conference title in the spring.

Despite the departure of senior All-American third baseman Dan Riedel, most of a starting lineup that finished second in the Great Lakes Conference last season is back.

“Madison and Milwaukee are always good teams that are always contending with us,” sophomore pitcher Tom West said. “But we’ve got a good core of seniors coming back that can lead us to a title.”

Senior catcher and team captain Jordan Clark along with senior second baseman Ian Yakob and shortstop David Cushwa power Marquette’s offense. Clark led the team in plate appearances with 71 and batted .322 with 10 RBI (in 18 games). Yakob and Cushwa each picked up 18 hits and combined for 28 runs.

Junior Dan Walker, a second team All-Great Lakes West region selection last season, anchors the pitching staff. Clark described Walker, as a “hard-throwing lefty with a good breaking ball who commands the zone well and has gained the respect of a lot of guys.”

Aside from home games at Rainbow Park (located on 700 S. 119th St. in West Allis, Wis.,) the team travels throughout the state and takes part in an annual fall tournament in Madison, Wis.

“In the fall we really look forward to our Madison tournament where we get to compete against some of the teams in the multiple divisions to see where we stack up against the competition early in the fall,” Clark said. “Madison is really the team we look forward to most of all because it usually comes down to either us or them in the conference final.”

Madison and Milwaukee are not the only in-state teams Marquette enjoys battling with.

“Everyone on the team always enjoys the Wisconsin-Eau Claire trip and we usually win,” Cushwa said. “We also are looking forward to putting a whipping on UWM.”

According to Cushwa, the overall culture surrounding Marquette club baseball is what sets it apart from other club sports.

“It’s always fun but serious when it needs to be and everybody shows up,” Cushwa said. “For me it’s another group of friends besides the people I live with.”

Though this collection of Marquette athletes may not play under the bright lights of Miller Park, their love of the game inspired them to play during their college years.

“Club baseball is a way for people to have fun and enjoy the game they play,” Clark said. “It gives a lot of high school players that would have gone to bigger baseball programs (and sat on the bench) a chance to keep playing.”

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