Menomonie (WQOW) -- This was supposed to be the week when UW-Stout opened the WIAC portion of its season, but Mother Nature has thrown a nasty curveball at the Blue Devils schedule.
UW-Stout was supposed to host UW-La Crosse, Tuesday, but last Thursday, that doubleheader was moved to La Crosse and rescheduled for Wednesday. Now, it's been rescheduled again, to May 1, and back to the Blue Devils home field. Also, the non-conference doubleheader at St. Thomas (MN), Friday, has been postponed.
So, it's back indoors for the Blue Devils, getting ready for what they hope is the start of conference play Saturday and Sunday at UW-Whitewater. Stout started the season by going 1-3 in games at U.S. Bank Stadium, and followed that with a 2-5 Florida trip. Still, those games have given head coach Ben Kincaid confidence that his team will be competitive in the WIAC.
"The US Bank Stadium games and the Florida games we didn't have the best record but I think we were still successful down there, we made a huge jump from what we were last year to what we are this year," Kincaid says, "and I think just having that confidence for our guys and us as a coaching staff and this whole program, I think we'll be all right going into conference."
Kincaid thinks the pitching staff has promise, despite some early inconsistency and a team earned run average of 5.6. The Blue Devils do have six position players returning from last year's team, so the defense has been solid so far. UW-Stout's offense has been productive, with the team hitting .259 and averaging more than five runs per game.
"Hopefully it's a big strength for us, it's looking good right now, our offense," says Blue Devils junior outfielder Jordan Wilson, "guys are hitting the ball well, putting pressure on the defense, getting on base, stealing bases. We've got thirteen [stolen bases] already this year, I think we only had seventeen last year, so that's already a bright spot."
"We've been trying to play a little bit more small ball, and when we get guys on, get them in, that's our big key," says senior infielder/pitcher Max Sires, "in the past, left a lot of guys on base and we're trying to make a key to get those guys in."
Kincaid also points to depth as another strength of this year's team.
"These guys returning, and some of these younger guys filling in some spots, I think we have a lot of success coming our way," says Kincaid, "we've just got to show it and prove it."