With the start of the NWAACC East season a day away, it would be easy to look at the Columbia Basin College baseball team and write it off.
The Hawks, after all, are sitting at 6-10 and in the midst of a five-game losing streak. They have a sky-high team ERA (5.54), a low-down batting average (.245) and more than twice as many errors (49) as extra-base hits (22).
But programs with 14-year runs to the NWAACC championships tend to find ways of overcoming adversity, even if their toughest adversary is themselves.
Also, CBC can make a case for playing the toughest schedule to date, having faced No. 2 Edmonds, No. 3 Mt. Hood, No. 7 Tacoma and No. 8 Lower Columbia in four of their last five doubleheaders. And about that five-game losing streak, four of those have been one- or two-run games.
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Perhaps not all of the tea leaves predict a dire spring.
Of course, the Hawks' life doesn't get any easier with fourth-ranked Yakima Valley (11-4) coming to town Wednesday for a 1 p.m. twinbill.
The Yaks have won eight out of 10, and the two losses came to top-ranked and defending champion Bellevue.
Among the biggest needs for CBC is to find more consistent starting pitching. Arty Reyes is solid at the top spot, with a 2.57 ERA over 21 innings in his four starts, with 12 hits and 16 strikeouts. Also, after walking 10 batters in his first two starts, he has given up just three free passes in his last two.
But after Reyes, the Hawks have given up 39 earned runs in 492/3 innings in their other starts.
The offense is coming around despite some lingering deficiencies. CBC is averaging 5.3 runs a game over its last eight, a full run higher than its first eight games.
Freshman center fielder Joey Jansen has been right in the middle of that, going 17-for-36 (.472) in last nine games to raise average to .351. All of his team-high nine RBIs have come during that span. Sophomore outfielder Chris Cecil has hit safely in seven of his last 11 to raise his average to .379 in 29 at-bats.
Others have helped the offense without piling up many hits. Freshman middle infielder Larry Price-Lomas is hitting just .250, but his on-base percentage is .415 thanks in large part to getting hit by pitches nine times in CBC's first 11 games, including five on the opening weekend.
But whatever else they do, the Hawks have to get the defense nailed down. They seemed to have a handle on it, going six straight games with two or fewer miscues. But after committing five errors in the last game, CBC is averaging more than three errors a game.