The New Mexico State Aggie baseball team goes to Hawaii for the WAC tournament.
The Aggies have had a good year on the baseball field. The team went 12-12 in the WAC and earned the No. 4 seed. That's better than last year and much better than the year before.
Coach Rocky Ward didn't seem bothered by the travel to Hawaii, less than a week after the team completed a four-game series at Louisiana Tech. The Aggies returned home to Las Cruces for a few days before making the trip to Hawaii on Tuesday morning.
One thing that does concern me about having the tournament in Honolulu are the playing conditions. Hawaii's park is actually smaller than NMSU's — 325 down the lines, 360 in the gaps, 390 to dead center. What it also has are heavy winds blowing from left field to right, causing favorable pitching conditions. It could be the WAC's best pitching yard and is a graveyard for right-handed power hitters. And, while the Aggies have improved in both pitching and defense, it's not the team's strength. Can NMSU outpitch the competition for four straight days? It will be a tall order. And, outslugging the WAC in Hawaii's stadium seems unlikely.
The Aggies are equipped to advance in this tournament. They are better than last year, with an effective offense and an improved pitching staff. They're going to need a strong performance on the hill from their starter in Game 1 against Fresno — it's either going to be D.J. Simon or Jared Jordan. Fresno State has had a down year — although the team has played better later in the season. It will be a good first-round matchup.