The Gustavus baseball team will not start their regular season until March, but that does not mean they are taking time off. In compliance with NCAA Division III rules, the team is allowed 12 practices during the fall, and the Gusties are making the most of them.
“We’ve been having team practice for a couple hours every Monday and Wednesday, and we scrimmage on Saturdays. We warm up and stretch and then we [the pitchers] typically pitch while the rest of the team takes infield. After that, it kind of depends on what we decide to work on,” Junior Pitcher Grant Soderberg said.
Soderberg is one of the Gusties’ star returners, having posted an impressive 2.89 earned run average in nine starts last season, and joining classmate Chris Kelly (2.45 ERA) on the 2013 All-Conference team.
But the work the squad is putting in this year is not limited to the space between the foul lines. On any given day, a number of Gustie ballplayers can be found training in the Lund Center weight room.
“[We’ve] been spending a lot of time in the weight room so far this offseason. We’re working on getting stronger and hitting the ball harder. I think that’ll pay off come game time. I’m going to rest my arm for a little while, but I’ll crank things up this winter. I also plan to continue to hit all throughout the offseason, mainly working on letting the ball get deep and hitting it the other way,” Sophomore Catcher Sam Warner said.
Warner is not the only player who has a nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic— similar qualities can be found in a number of players on the Gustavus roster.
“It’s important for all of us to get our work in this offseason. That way we can get off to a strong start in the spring.” Junior Third-baseman Garret Fuchs said.
Offseason conditioning will prove valuable in the 2014 season, as the league plans to add two innings to the second game of each doubleheader. The extra innings will likely test the stamina of the teams in the conference, and will require more depth at each position. Fortunately, the Gusties acquired a solid number of first-year players for the upcoming season.
“There are a lot of first-years that came out this year and all of them will play important roles on the team. We definitely have some new guys who will immediately have a big impact on the field, and I think we’re all excited for them to help and contribute,” Warner said.
The Gustavus baseball team entered the final leg of their 2013 season in second place in the MIAC, and had high hopes of getting deep into the playoffs. The team then went 1-5 in their last six games and ended up missing the playoffs. While the series of season-ending losses was upsetting to a lot of players on the team, they are taking it as a learning experience and focusing on the positives.
“It was a pretty disappointing end to the season, considering the fact that we were in position to make the playoffs towards the end of the year. We have a lot to be proud of though, and I think everyone knows that. We’re all excited for the upcoming season,” Junior Infielder Evan Reed said.
The Gusties have traditionally started their season in early March, playing their games at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. This season, however, the Metrodome will be torn down and the team will have to wait until the snow melts to begin their regular season campaign. The late start to the season will give players ample time to achieve their offseason goals.
“I definitely think we can make it to the playoffs this year if we stay focused and have a productive offseason. We’ve got to continue to work hard,” Soderberg said.