2017 baseball season officially underway

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The NCAA Division II World Series is the goal for the 2017 Dixie State University baseball team.

After an early exit in the 2016 NCAA West Regionals, The Trailblazers have their sights on the ultimate prize in college baseball.

“Our expectation is to win the conference and eventually get to the World Series,” said junior pitcher Dylan File, a criminal justice major from St. George. “Anything short of that is a disappointment.”

The Trailblazers are coming off a season that saw them notch a NCAA-era program-best 40 wins. DSU finished with a record of 40-14, which was good enough to finish second place in the Pacific West Conference  behind California Baptist University.

DSU is picked to finish in second place again this season behind CBU in the 2017 PacWest Conference preseason coaches’ poll that was released Wednesday. Head coach Chris Pfatenhauer said that ranking is just fine by him.

“As good as our conference is, I’ll take second to start the year,” Pfatenhauer said. “It’s nice to get that type of respect, but we’ll play as hard as we can and hopefully end up one step higher.”

DSU is ranked No. 9 in the Perfect Game Preseason Top-25 poll while being ranked No. 15 in the 2017 College Baseball Newspaper preseason poll.

Along with the preseason rankings, File and senior second baseman Drew McLaughlin were also given preseason honors. File was named the preseason co-pitcher of the year while McLaughlin was selected as preseason player of the year.

File finished last season with a record of 6-1 with an ERA of 2.99 and 74 strikeouts over 14 starts. He was named to the third-team All-PacWest team and said he hopes to improve this season.

“It’s cool being honored as the co-pitcher of the year,” File said. “Being that it’s a preseason poll doesn’t really matter, but it’s nice to get your name out there.”

McLaughlin is coming off a record-breaking season for the Trailblazers. Last season, he became DSU’s all-time leader in career hits with 217 as well as the all-time leader in hits in a season with 91. He said he doesn’t feel any pressure going into this season.

“The only pressure I would feel is what I put on myself,” said McLaughlin, a criminal justice major from Scottsdale, Arizona. “Those are cool right now, but once the season starts, those are over with. We still have unfinished business to do as a team.”

In addition to File and McLaughlin, two other Trailblazers were named to the PacWest preseason team. Senior outfielder Trey Kamachi and senior first baseman Ryan Rodriguez were also among those honored.

DSU began its season with the annual alumni game Saturday. The current DSU players handled the challenge from DSU alumni securing a victory, 8-0. 

The Trailblazers jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in the first inning. They added two runs in the second and one run in the third to capture the victory.

Pfatenhauer said it was nice for the team to have different faces in another dugout to compete against. He said he  has high expectations for this team in its effort to reach the World Series.

“I want us to compete,” Pfatenhauer said. “I want to walk away from games and have fans or opponents say ‘those guys played really hard.’ I think if we do that, we have enough talent to be standing in the right place at the end of the year.

DSU will officially kick off its 2017 season Friday as it travels to take on California State University San Bernardino before returning home for its home-opener Feb. 10.