Though this past Wednesday was one of the first days the weather has permitted outdoor play, the baseball team has been practicing daily since Feb 1 in the PEC, preparing for the upcoming season.
“Practicing indoors on that PEC floor doesn’t compare to cut grass in real games,” said pitcher Gary Kahn ’09. “But we’re out there, always working hard.”
Kahn will be returning to the mound this season, joined by fellow senior Rick Berdelle ’09, and juniors Marshall Chavez ’10, Chad Christoff ’10, Ryan Harris ’10 and Brian Sollo ’10. Also coming to the mound will be first-years. And lots of them.
With a huge first-year class of 12 players, which amounts to over a third of the team, the Pioneers said they look forward to significant increases in the number of pitchers and outfielders available. “Coach really needed to reload players for the next four years,” Kahn said. “We’ve got a really talented group of first years, they’ll be stepping up and making an impact right away.”
Despite having a large roster, Jason Kemis ’12, outfield, said that the team remains really cohesive. “The upperclassmen made everybody feel involved,” Kemis said. “We’re all really comfortable with each other and really close, it’s something that I definitely didn’t have before in high school.”
As a result of this cohesion, the Pioneers expect this season to be full of success. “Our first goal is to win conference and I feel pretty good about that,” Kemis said. “The upperclassmen say it’s looking like a strong team, so everybody has high expectations.”
The Pioneers will be able to put their preseason hard work to use, as they travel to play their first game at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. “It’s really nice to get one game in before we go play during spring break in Florida,” Kahn said. “And it’s cool to play on a major league field.”
Even though the players express excitement about playing on a major league field, they’re more excited to face competition in a game situation. “I could really care less about where it is,” Kemis said. “Everybody is just sick of all practice and no games. It’s going to be great to actually play.”
Lucky for the Pioneers, their first game is only days away. They head to the Metrodome for a doubleheader against Carleton on Monday, March 2. They then head to Florida on March 15, before returning to Grinnell for their first home game on March 28.