Purdue Aiming For Historic FinishUnder The Radar
Purdue second-year head coach Mark Wasikowski and his staff have been full speed ahead since they took over the program two years ago.
Perhaps no example could better show their focus on the future as opposed to the past like a situation this past weekend. Wasikowski saw a note in a story about Purdue only having two postseason appearances — 1987 and 2012 — in school history. That’s in 100-plus years of the institution having a baseball program. The skipper initially didn’t think the note was true. So, he went and asked baseball sports information director Ben Turner to confirm it. Turner did. The note was true.
Wasikowski was amazed. And, for a second, he marveled at what his coaching staff had already accomplished and what they’d like to do sooner rather than later — another postseason appearance, which is possible this season as the Boilermakers sit at 10-4 in the Big Ten with a 24-16 overall record and a 57 RBI. They’re far from a slam dunk. Heck, they’re on the bad side of the bubble at the moment. But the progress is evident, and for that, Wasikowski is proud and cautiously optimistic about what’s being built in West Lafayette, Ind.
“The one thing we’ve really tried to do since we showed up is really focusing on the culture. We want our guys to play in a positive environment, and that’s sometimes hard to do when a team won 10 games the previous season with only two wins in the league,” Wasikowski said. “Early on, we had a real confidence issue. We really had to blow some things up and pretty much start from scratch and go down the road of Baseball 101.
“From how we were going to take care of the clubhouse to how we were going to treat people, we focused on everything,” he continued. “That’s the focal point for this staff, and these guys have really improved in that way the past two seasons. So, for me, that’s the biggest reason we’ve been able to make some noticeable progress.”
The Boilermakers made their first statement last season by putting together one of the sport’s most impressive turnarounds. After winning just 10 games in 2016, Wasikowski helped the program make immediate strides, going 29-27 last season with 10 more Big Ten wins (12). They also qualified for the conference tournament, which was unexpected.