By Dave Wagner
Eastern New Mexico University baseball coach Phil Clabaugh is a little sad that this year marks the end of the Broken Bat Tournament.
A four-team event featuring wood bats, the Greyhounds will host the sixth — and final —edition of the event beginning at Greyhound Field.
Because the teams play with wood instead of aluminum bats, it tends to put more of a premium on runs.
“I’ve always enjoyed it because I believe it brings the integrity back to baseball,” Clabaugh said. “You won’t see anybody loafing to first base. Errors make a difference, sacrifices make a difference.”
Originally scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, the tournament was squeezed into a two-day event Saturday and Sunday.
Lone Star Conference South Division and NCAA Division II members ENMU and West Texas A&M have traditionally played NAIA programs Lubbock Christian and Wayland Baptist in the event. But LCU will not be in it for the first time due to a scheduling conflict, and the Chaparrals’ place has been taken by NAIA member Northwestern Oklahoma.
The Greyhounds and WT will each meet Wayland and Northwestern once on both days.
Clabaugh said the tournament was started by WBU coach Brad Bass in 1999, adding that it’s fitting the Hounds and Pioneers will meet in the final game Sunday.
“The reason we’re not playing it after this year is because of the way the NCAA has dictated its power rating,” Clabaugh said. “It really hurts us (to play a lot of games against NAIA schools).”
The Hounds have gotten off to a 1-4 start, but Clabaugh believes they gave away games late in losses to St. Mary’s (9-8 on Sunday in the Southwest Shootout in Stephenville, Texas) and LCU (5-4 on Tuesday in Lubbock). Both contests were decided in the bottom of the final inning.
ENMU will complete a six-game homestand with a doubleheader against Sul Ross State.
With the start of LSC South play looming next weekend, Clabaugh hopes his team can build some momentum.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said of the tournament. “Even though it’s February, it’s a big weekend for us. East Central beat us (13-8 at Stephenville), but we ‘lost’ the game to St. Mary’s and we ‘lost’ the game (at LCU).”