How the Sac State baseball team preps through adversity ahead of new season

Hornets take the field for the 2021 season Friday at Arizona State

Sara Nevis

Michael Eskridge

After the Sac State baseball team went 40-25 en route to the WAC Championship in 2019, the team followed it up with a 9-7 record in a COVID-19 shortened 2020 season.

Reggie Christiansen is entering his 12th season as head coach of the Sac State baseball team. 

Christiansen, who has won WAC Coach of the Year two times (2012, 2014) and has led the Hornets to win three WAC championships during his time as coach, said that he believes dealing with adversity can be a benefit to the team. 

“Dealing with adversity and going through struggles together at the end of the day will make you better,” Christiansen said. 

Out of 33 players from the championship-winning 2019 roster, 23 are returning, and nine from the 2020 team are returning starters.

Two of those returning starters are 2019’s First Team All-WAC and four-time Academic All-WAC outfielder Matt Smith and senior right-handed pitcher Stone Churby.

“A lot of the education portion and the growth through our leadership comes from constant communication, talking to them, FaceTiming them,” Smith said.

Churby said standards and a person’s moral compass play a role in this process.

“Showing them what that standard is and being able to convey what that standard is through our actions and our words as soon as we can is really important,” Churby said.

To help build camaraderie and teach the younger players, resources such as FaceTime, GroupMe, and other social apps have proved useful for the team.

“We have a team GroupMe app that we are constantly pushing out information, things to read, things to watch, just constantly trying to help catch those younger guys up to the standards that we set, the things that are important to us,” Christiansen said.

Showing them what that standard is and being able to convey what that standard is through our actions and our words as soon as we can is really important.

— Stone Churby

Some team members have experienced depression and anxiety, according to Christiansen. He said the team is playing for the mental health of its players.

“I understand that in the pandemic with what’s going on across the country and in the world, there are certainly things that are more important than college athletics, I agree with that.” Christiansen said. “But I will say this: These guys need this as an outlet, they need to get out, they need to play, they need to participate, they need to compete.”

Churby said everyone has had issues during this pandemic. “Being college-aged men it’s easy to think mentally everyone’s okay,” Churby said. “But I think everyone has some issues, especially during the pandemic, and it’s really easy to get caught up in your thoughts,”

The Sac State baseball team is set to face off at Arizona State on Friday at 5:35 p.m. PST for the first game of the series.