Liam Patton ’23 takes a swing against Hanover College on March 18, 2023, at the K.T. Young ballpark. Courtesy of Zachary Lucy Photography.

The Wabash baseball team dropped a three-game series to Hanover College last weekend, winning the final game 5-4 to avoid a sweep. That win brought their record on the year to 11-6 going into a series against Illinois Wesleyan University including the home opener on Sunday, March 26.

The first half of this season has been defined by an NCAC leading battery, pitcher Caleb Everson ’26 and Liam Patton ’23, who have both won NCAC player of the year awards already. Everson picked up his second NCAC Pitcher of the Week award two weeks ago with an eight IP performance, continuing his dominant year.

“I think my success this year stems from the strength of our defense as a whole,” said Everson on his own success this year. “Every time I‘m on the mound my goal is to throw as many strikes as possible in order to give the guys in the field the chance to make plays, and they do. The entire infield has been consistent and solid, and we have speed in all three positions of the outfield. Knowing that you can throw the ball in the zone and trust that plays will be made is huge.”

As humble as Everson is about his own performance, he has performed incredibly, and his coaches and teammates know it.

“Caleb has shown us exactly what we expected from him,” said Head Baseball Coach Jake Martin. “He is a competitor. He challenges hitters and has the ability to command multiple pitches for strikes. He’s worked to improve controlling the running game, and that has paid off. Caleb is also a great team guy, and he is developing into a great leader. All of those reasons are why we recruited him. I’m excited to see him grow as the season progresses.”

And his batterymate, Patton said more of the same, specifically praising his changeup, saying it was a “nightmare for hitters.”

Everson attributed some of his own success to Patton and his lights-out performance behind the plate.

“[One] thing that has helped is having great leadership behind the plate. I have been throwing to Liam Patton mostly, and he does a great job commanding our defense and pitching.”

Patton is hitting .436, with a hit in every game this year except for the most recent game against Hanover, bringing 17 RBI and seven doubles in 14 games into the series against Illinois Wesleyan, who sits at 4-8. Despite that record, the Little Giants aren’t underestimating the Titans.

“Currently their record might tell a different story, but IWU is a great baseball team,” said Patton. “It’s a good program and a good chance for us to show off the work we have put in this offseason.”

As a team, the Little Giants are hitting .318 and are getting on base at a clip of .418. AJ Reid ’24 is destroying baseballs, already amassing five home runs, two triples and six doubles in 17 games while getting on base more than 55% of the time and carrying a team-leading 1.364 OPS.

And as Everson (3-0) has emerged as a leading arm for the Little Giants’ starting rotation, Henry Birk ’26 has been excellent out of the bullpen in relief, pitching to a 2.25 ERA in eight innings, surrendering only two earned runs via the long ball, but limiting baserunners overall with a .75 WHIP.

The Illinois Wesleyan Titans are led by a trio of Jalen Ping, Louis Perona and Evan Hutson who are collectively hitting .432/.447/.612 with 50 hits and 27 RBI through 12 games. Dalen Banks (3-0) leads the Titans’ rotation, pitching to a 2.35 ERA and 1.30 WHIP and Josh Ralston leads the Titans’ pen with a 0.00 ERA and .35 WHIP in five appearances.

The Little Giants look to remain hot before NCAC play opens up against Illinois Wesleyan this weekend. The Little Giants had originally planned to travel to Bloomington, Illinois for a doubleheader on Saturday, March 25. However, because of inclement weather, all three games will now be played at Wabash. The doubleheader will take place on Sunday, March 26, for the first home game of the year.