PREVIEW: Jackets hit the diamond against Westminster, hoping to improve PAC rank

Playoffs—that’s the ultimate goal for this year’s Waynesburg University baseball team.

If the season ended this weekend, the Yellow Jackets would find themselves in the four-team playoff field, as the fourth seed.

However, a game and a half separate Waynesburg from Westminster, who currently sits in 6th place in the conference.

Ironically enough, the Yellow Jackets were picked to finish sixth in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) preseason poll. This has added fuel to the fire for head coach Mike Humiston and his squad.

“It irritated our upperclassmen a little bit,” Humiston said. “I hope that this is motivation for our guys that they are not given the respect that is due.”

One of those upperclassmen is the reigning Waynesburg University athlete of the week Tyler Godwin. The senior had a walk-off fielder’s choice in the extra-inning 3-2 victory at home against Chatham which was aided by a throwing error from the second baseman.

“It isn’t how I envisioned my first walk-off, but the result is the same,” Godwin said. “It’s very hard to mess up and I did the one thing that I could have messed up. Luckily the second baseman just threw it away.”

After getting swept in a doubleheader by Grove City Tuesday, Waynesburg turns its attention to Westminster for a three-game series this weekend.

“In years prior, Westminster has been pretty formidable,” Godwin said. “Winning the series would be huge to knock them out of the playoff hunt and put us in contention.”

With Washington & Jefferson seemingly running away with the conference and Grove City beginning to separate itself too, that leaves Saint Vincent, Waynesburg, Bethany, Westminster and Thiel to battle for the final two spots.

What could aid Waynesburg in its quest to finally make the playoffs, is the amount of returning players from last year’s team.

“We are now playing the game as it should be,” Humiston said. “Last year we left a lot of games out there, and I think we are realizing that last year was a fluke. We can be a force to be reckoned with.”

Other teams have begun to take notice of Waynesburg thanks to its potent offense. The Yellow Jackets are first in walks (116) and triples (10), third in runs scored (177) and doubles (47) and fourth in hits (248).

“The big key has been getting another year of experience under everyone’s belt,” Godwin said. “Last year was Justin Buberl’s first season as a full-time starter and that’s huge. A couple of other guys have stepped up like Jonny Kutchman, Tyler Woodrow and Alec Fantaskey. We’re putting a lot of time in and it’s showing up on the field.”

Despite the sweep to Grove City, Godwin is confident heading into the Westminster series thanks to the pitching.

“We are going to have our better pitchers this weekend,” Godwin said. “Especially with the way Mason Miller is pitching, it gives us a good chance.”

After playing the two best and two worst teams in the conference, Waynesburg has a chance to stack up with the teams in the middle of the pack and potentially begin to separate itself.

“We’ve got some very big games against Westminster, Saint Vincent and Thiel,” Humiston said. “Those are some very good teams so we have to be on our A-game if we want to play in the [PAC] tournament.”