The Salt Lake Community College Bruin baseball team just started their regular season and is ready to display their revamped defense, strong team speed and incoming talent.
SLCC students have been enjoying an unusually warm winter with little snow. If there is one group of students that is enjoying this weather more than others, it is the baseball team.
The Bruins have been busy fine-tuning their game and conditioning to be the fastest team in the league.
Brandon Gust, a new member of the SLCC baseball coaching staff and former Bruin player, says this team has lofty goals for this up coming season. Salt Lake goes up against other Scenic Western Athletic Conference teams in a conference tournament Feb. 19-21 in Henderson, Nev.
“We want to first win our conference, then win districts and from there head to the Junior College World Series and bring home a national championship,” Gust says.
With such a tall order to fill, it might seem unlikely for a local team to gain national recognition; however, Gust believes their “hard work and talent” can accomplish this major feat.
Constant challenges for any junior college team include signing new recruits, forming an identity and building team chemistry. For SLCC, the 2015 season brings a mix of fresh talent and returning leadership.
“Taylor Snyder and Jimi Dixon are our most experienced returning infielders, with returning pitchers that will help record a lot of wins for us this year,” Gust says.
With only two years of eligibility, it might be hard for some junior college teams to build unity and trust between players and coaches, but the Bruins have found ways to do this. SLCC is in a different region than other major four-year programs and because of this, the Bruins are given a few more perks.
Major conferences, or four-year schools, are only allowed to play about 60 games a year, depending on their conference. Junior colleges like SLCC have no limit to how many games a team can play.
Though the official school schedule kicks off in February, the Bruins have been playing with the same team year round, which has built a strong bond between players and coaches.
So how might the Bruins contend for a shot at a national title? The old saying goes, “Defense wins championships,” and there is no team in baseball that believes this more than SLCC.
Gust says, “To me, we stand out as a very strong defensive team. Also the team is very deep with at least two guys at each position that can step up at anytime and get the job done.”
Although SLCC’s greatest strength may be defense, other teams are not viewing the Bruins as a one-dimensional team. Salt Lake has also built a tradition of speed and execution.
“Our speed will prove to be what our team is built around because it helps on both our defensive and offensive ends of things,” Gust says.