Recruiting at top of the list for next season's Blugolds' baseball team

Capping off his inaugural season as UW-Eau Claire’s baseball coach, Patrick Reilly has learned a lot and is looking forward to what the future holds for the Blugolds on the diamond.

While growing pains can always be expected, Reilly said he feels the team has progressed immensely since he took over the squad last summer. The skills learned and the bond created during his first year in Eau Claire should reap dividends for the team in the future, the coach believes.

“As a team, we have started to communicate much more effectively. Early this fall we didn’t even know each other’s names, so it has been a learning curve. But our communication has improved immensely and I believe that has helped us in playing better,” Reilly told the Leader-Telegram in a season-ending exclusive recap interview.

Now that his first season as the Blugolds’ head baseball coach — and his first overall at the helm of a collegiate squad — has concluded, he was asked what was the one thing about the position that he didn’t anticipate when he came to Eau Claire in August to take on the job of rebuilding the team. His answer was two-fold.

“I didn’t expect the campus and administration support. I was so impressed with how much support we got from them and am fortunate to be working with them,” Reilly said, adding that “It has been a very rewarding year and I’m looking forward to starting back up again next fall with these young men. They are great representatives of the program and we look forward to getting this thing turned around.”

In the final game of the Blugolds’ season — a Saturday doubleheader against the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, the Blugolds honored their seniors prior to Game 1. Those honored were: Joe Clinton (Sr. — Aurora, Colorado/Cherokee Trail), Justin Coronado (Sr. — Atascocita, Texas), Charley Griffin (Sr. — River Falls, Wisconsin), Jacob Lacy (Sr. — Shawano, Wisconsin.), Mueller and Ben Teigland (Sr. — Hastings, Minnesota).

Amid a 11-29 overall record that saw the Blugolds post a 3-21 record in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC), Reilly said his players never once let him down or gave up, traits that will serve the returners well next season and that the above-mentioned seniors will be able to apply to their eventual professional careers.

“I have learned they show up to work every day with a great attitude and effort. They want to have success and are hungry for it,” Reilly said.

With that in mind, the head coach said he will be focusing on some key things in the off season that should stand next year’s Blugolds’ baseball squad in good stead when it comes to next spring’s first pitch.

“First and foremost is recruiting. I am looking forward to getting out and recruiting the next class of Blugolds. We need to elevate the overall talent of the roster if we want to compete in the WIAC. I am excited for that challenge,” the head coach noted.