New men’s baseball coach hopes to develop strong team for spring season

August 29, 2016

Bradley Umpleby

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We recall our memories of childhood when we hear the crack of a baseball bat, the aroma of concession stands and the synchronized head motion the audience makes when a baseball sours through the air.

This spring, over 50 players will represent UCCS on the men’s baseball team. Fall practice starts the second week of September, and the team’s roster is complete, leaving head men’s baseball coach Dave Hajek satisfied with the new recruits.

“I’m happy with the group we’ve got this first go-round. I haven’t really had the chance to see what type of athletes they’ve become…but that’s part of the fun, excitement and anxiety with a first-year program,” said Hajek.

Freshman pitcher and criminal justice major Dalton Heath hopes to improve his defense skills.

“As a player and pitcher, I would like to throw harder. Going from Arizona to here, the elevation difference makes it a lot harder for a pitcher,” said Heath.

Heath said he is excited and nervous about being on the Mountain Lion’s new team, but he looks forward to having Hajek as his head coach.

Hajek said he is focused on the development of the team and wants to center his attention on making his players successful for the new practice season.

“We need to play good defense. Colorado is a unique brand of baseball with altitude, wind and weather conditions. If all those things factor in during a baseball game, you would give away outs.”

“So, we’re going to work on fundamentals, and play the game the right way,” he said.

Hajek is no novice to the sport of baseball. Aside from being a former Major League Baseball player for the Houston Astros, Hajek was a minor league coach in the Colorado Rockies system for 12 years with 11 of those years as a hitting coach, and one year as a minor league infield coordinator.

“22 years of professional baseball, as a player and coach, is something I’m proud of. How it benefits me at the college ranks has yet to be seen. I have confidence that my experience will be beneficial, but it’s something I need to prove,” said Hajek.

Even though the team is looking ready for the practice season ahead, a specific location for practice is yet to be determined.

Playing at multiple locations can be difficult, especially for a first-year team, according to Hajek.

“We’re figuring it out and making it work. It’s not going to be easy, because we don’t have our own place, but we will eventually, and that will be exciting when we get to that point,” said Hajek.

The place to call the team’s new home might be arriving shortly.

The baseball team may have a practice space soon at Sky Sox Stadium, but this has not yet been finalized.

As practice gets underway, Hajek is prepared to take on a new season, although the official season is months away.

“It doesn’t feel like it’s far off. It feels like it’s here,” said Hajek.