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May 7, 2014 — If it wins three games, the University of Wyoming club baseball team will compete in the National Club Baseball Association World Series later this month in Tampa, Fla.
That’s the scenario for UW Manager Skyler Joy’s team when the Cowboys compete May 9-11 in the double-elimination Mid-America Region club baseball tournament in Topeka, Kan.
Competing for the first time in Division I of the club sport, UW was the surprise winner of the West Division of the Mid-America conference this season with a 12-6 league record. Overall, the Pokes were 14-14.
“We have had success in the past playing Division II baseball, but we moved up this year,” Joy says. “You never know how you will compete against these bigger schools, but it’s quite an accomplishment considering not a lot of people expected this from us.”
UW competed in the North Division against club teams from the University of Colorado, Colorado State University (CSU) and the University of Northern Colorado. The Pokes swept all six games against the Buffs; had their only losing conference mark against the Rams, going 2-4; and took four of six games against the Bears.
UW enters regional play Saturday, May 10, at 9 a.m. (CDT) against the No. 2 club, the University of Iowa. Top-seed University of Missouri takes on No. 4 CSU in the opening game Friday at 8:15 p.m. (CDT). The championship game is at noon Sunday, May 11, and, if needed, a second championship game will immediately follow.
Joy, a former Laramie baseball player who also competed for the Pokes club team, has been part of a strong Cowboys program in the past. In Division II competition, UW won back-to-back District VIII championships in 2008 and 2009, and then won three straight titles from 2011 through 2013. The team made Division II World Series appearances during that stretch.
In his first year as full-time manager, Joy and his two assistants -- Travis Geile of Wheatland and Will Burger of Casper -- have the opportunity to take the Cowboys to the higher level World Series tournament.
The club will be led by conference Player of the Year, pitcher Rhowe Stefanski. The Palmer, Alaska, lefthander posted the second-most wins in the nation this season, going 7-0, with an ERA of 2.38 over 49 innings.
The team’s leading hitter is Laramie’s Rylan Harding. Playing both third and second base, he hit .427 during the regular season. Also hitting above the .400 mark is outfielder-third baseman-pitcher Kyler Robinson, Cheyenne, who hit .415. Batting at a .384 clip is shortstop Beau Hall, also of Cheyenne.
The team began the season with 30 players, and 22 will suit up for this weekend’s regional tournament.
To view the roster, season statistics and for game-day photos, visit the team website at http://wyomingclubbaseball.weebly.com/index.html.
University of Wyoming pitcher Rhowe Stefanski of Palmer, Alaska, was the nation’s second-best pitcher in Division II club baseball with a 7-0 record this season. (UW Photo)