As the weather continues to warm up and bring our April showers, the North Coast Athletic Conference's West Division baseball race is heating up as well.

It kind of shapes up as conference tournament "musical chairs." There are five quality teams in the West Division--Wabash, DePauw, Denison, Ohio Wesleyan and Wittenberg. Only the top four will qualify for the conference play-in series the first weekend of May. Just one team will end up on the outside starting their summer break early.

Coach Stevens always explains to the team that the NCAC season is a completely separate animal from the pre-season games. Everything we do early leads up to the conference season and tournament. Winning the conference tournament is the brass ring and the ticket to the NCAA Regional - something Wabash accomplished in 2011. We explain to the guys that it's a 16 game grind and that, in all likelihood, it will come down to the last series in April to decide who plays on. The last weekend is always a dash to the finish line. In 2011, we beat Denison 5-4 in extra innings in the last game of the season on the road, just to qualify for the conference tournament. Lose and we would have gone home. Then we won the conference tournament through the winner's bracket.

We are currently tied for third in the West with a huge series this weekend against DePauw. We will host the Tigers on Saturday and Sunday at Goodrich Ballpark. It should be the most important four game set in the short history of our beautiful new facility.

Our goal this weekend, as it is every weekend, is to win the weekend--which means take at least three out of four games. We'd love to get the broom out and sweep, but that's tough in this conference. A solid performance for the diamondmen this weekend could give us some great momentum as we head to Ohio Wesleyan and Denison for the final two weekends. It's not "must win" time, but we have to keep getting better. After all, that's why we do this anyway. Conference is stressful, but man is it fun!

Come out this weekend and catch the Wabash/DePauw ('nuf said) series. Doubleheaders both days beginning at noon. We're looking for a packed house, but there's plenty of room so come on out. Lots of comfortable chairs in the grandstands and plenty of lawn seating on the outfield hills. Bring your lawn chairs, blankets, and food and enjoy a whole weekend of great baseball. Free admission (as always) and the Little Giants appreciate your support. It will be rockin'.

* * * * * * *

Kudos to track and field for turning in National qualifying marks at Bellarmine last weekend. The 4x400 relay team of Joel Whittington, John Haley, Chet Riddle, and Joey Conti turned in a 3:16 time to post the third fastest time in Division 3 so far this season. Whittington also qualified in the 400 hurdles. Pole vaulter Matt Knox soared to 15'5" to hit the qualifying mark as well. The cindermen continue to post great times as they prepare to defend their conference championship.

Please come out and check out the great baseball weekend guys (ladies too). You may have to stay home and help plant flowers and spread mulch if you don't!