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Archive for October, 2010

Strike IX

This past summer I read four books.  Three of the quartet had titles that started with the phrase “The Girl with…”.  They were an exceptional trio of reads I would highly recommend to anyone (especially “Dragon Tattoo”).  There’s mystery, action, sex and a battle for redemption seeped into the pages of each of the books.

The forth book I picked up over the summer was one I had seen mentioned on a couple of other college baseball themed websites, “Strike IX” by Paul Lonardo.  It’s the true story of the Providence Friars baseball program which was forced to be eliminated in 1999 due to Title IX.

I’m not gonna lie and say that I was all overly gung ho about reading it.  I’ve never been big into nonfiction reading and prefer invented stories rather than recounts.   And even though it was about college baseball, that still didn’t mean I was going to put it on my must read list.  There aren’t many fans of the collegiate game bigger than I am, but you’re not gonna catch me cradling up to watch “Summer Catch” any  time soon either. However when I had occasion to strike up a conversation with Lonardo online and he offered to send me a copy I jumped at the chance.

The book starts with an explanation of Title IX.  I’d heard about it and know the gist, but didn’t know all the details.  For the uninitiated, Title IX is a law passed in the early 1970’s that states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance”.  In layman’s terms, if a school receives federal funds it must allocate a proportionate amount of resources to both men and woman’s sports – at least that what it has been made out to mean.  There is no direct mention of athletic opportunities, nor was its original intent to increase female participation in sports.  It’s just what the law has become most famous for.

In 1992 Brown University announced that it was going to eliminate two men’s sports, water polo and golf, as well as two women’s sports, gymnastics and volleyball, in an attempt to make up for a $1.6 million dollar shortfall.  However a group of female athletes, led by a gymnast whose father was a judge, felt that the cuts were proportionally unfair and sued the school.  After an exhaustive and expensive legal battle, the female athletes won.

Providence College, not wanting to share the same litigative fate as cross-town Brown, put baseball and men’s golf and tennis on the chopping block to gain Title IX compliance.   The PC Friars, while not mentioned in the same breath as college baseball stalwarts like USC and Arizona State, had a long and accomplished history on the diamond.  They had 80 seasons of tradition under their belt and finished at or near the top of the Big East standings consistently in the 1990’s.  The elimination of the team was both unsuspected and unwarranted.  Needless to say, the proud Friars club didn’t take the news well or lying down.

Lonardo chronicles the ’99 season from the beginning of fall practice to the last out.  In some regards the year was a manifestation of the movie “Major League” in which the team had to pull together and overcome odds to win a championship.  Furthermore the Friars clubhouse was nearly as colorful as the one with Jake Taylor and Rick Vaughn in the dugout. There are stories of partying naked, bar fights, prank phone calls and rendezvous with international co-eds.  It also the requisite bad guy, PC President Father Philip A. Smith who became so reviled during the season that he skipped the last game in to avoid creating a hostile environment.

Any college baseball fan would appreciate Lonardo’s “Strike IX”.  In a lot of ways it had the same intrigue, action and underdog story that make “The Girl with…” stories so enjoyable.  The day it arrived in my house it became a bathroom staple.  With irregularity (I need more bran) I read about the historic season of the Friars and how they battled to keep their program, and season, alive.

My only complaint about the book is that it was a bit short, at 126 pages it doesn’t take long to go from cover to cover.  That doesn’t mean it not a complete retelling of the season, it’s just that I wanted to read more. As such, I got in contact with two of the principle players from the last season to get some more of their thoughts on the season.

Marc DesRoches was the senior ace of the Friar pitching staff.  He won 14 games and compiled 82 strikeouts to finish forever on the top of single season Providence pitching records.  Those numbers, combined with a 2.70 ERA earned him a spot on the All Big East first team.   He currently plays in the Yawkey League and has been awarded MVP in 1999, 2002, 2005, 2007 and Triple Crown and CY Young winner in 2007.  He is a head coach at the RBI Baseball Academy in Foxboro, MA.

Jamie Athas was an all around contributor for the team as a freshman.  He stole a team leading 18 bases and played solid defensive shortstop and earned a spot on the Big East All Rookie team.  He went on to play at Wake Forest and was drafted in the seventh round by the San Francisco Giants.  After six years in the minors where he reached the AAA level, he became a coach at UNC Greenboro where is currently works with hitters, infielders and heads recruiting for the Spartans.

Me: When you first heard the murmurs of Friars baseball possibly being eliminated, was there much initial concern?  Considering the history and success of the program, I would have guessed that the thought of shuttering the team would seem to be more than a bit ridiculous.

DesRoches: The first rumors weren’t that far in advance of the decision being made. It’s not even like we had time to form some sort of rebuttal or even have an opinion at all for that matter.

Athas: The story broke a couple of days before we actually got word from our Athletic Department.  A former Friar baseball player worked for the newspaper and that is where the leak came from.  We all thought it was crazy that we would be eliminated.  Baseball was the oldest and most winning sport the College had known. To take away a sport like baseball, America’s past time, was crazy.  I went home when the story leaked and told my parents about it.  I told them not to worry though and I went on with my normal college life.

Me: If you had the same players play out that final season without being under the weight of knowing it was PC’s last, would the team have been as successful?

DesRoches: I would say that we had the talent to as far as we did. It was the best recruiting class the school had ever had, so we were deep even relying on the talented freshman class. I believe the decision might have given us a higher level of focus, but the talent and the chemistry would have been there regardless. We just felt as if we were playing for every Friar who had ever suited up, that’s all.

Athas: That is a tough one.  That year was crazy, sad, amazing, exhausting. When we started our fall season, we were like any other college team getting to know all the new guys, who worked hard, who had talent, where we all fit in, etc. When we found out it was soon to be all over, we instantly became a team.  It didn’t matter who we were or where we had come from, PC did this to us.  They had other options available but chose not to go down that road.  Providence baseball being eliminated definitely brought us closer together.  We had an urgent common goal.  Some guys have 4 years to try to do what we did. We had only one year to do so.  We were castoffs who came together and showed everyone what Providence was losing.

Me: As someone who played for a program during its final season, what advice would you give to players on Cal’s baseball team?

DesRoches: My advice to those Cal Berkley players who stay in the program for the year would be to play for each other. When a school’s administration turns it back on you, you are forced to find strength within your own locker room, coaches included. In baseball, you learn early to put things behind you and to plod ahead and that is what I am sure they are going to do

Athas: For the older guys who may be junior’s right now and not know what will take place next year as they only have one year left of eligibility, I do feel for you.  They get hit the hardest.  Some will decide to stay and finish up their education, some will leave to play that one last year of baseball.  There are no easy decisions.

For someone who has been through this before, you have to do your work yet again with regards to the whole recruiting process.  See what other schools are interested (and you know the schools who are as you have been through it before).  See what kind of shape their athletic teams, departments, etc. are in so you can have all your bases covered.  For me, this was a blessing in disguise as I was able to go down south to play for Wake Forest, a top 25 team and get a great education.  Not all people involved are as lucky.

Speaking of Title IX in general, this is a great law that was enacted but it has also been a costly law.  I witness both sides as my wife was given a scholarship to be a heptathlete at Wake Forest, an opportunity that she might not have gotten before the law was enacted.  On the other hand, it hurt a lot of people close to me at PC.  The athletic departments know the shape of their budgets and what may have to be done in order to stay afloat.  I just hope they are up front about it because in the end, the student-athletes are the ones bearing the brunt of the decisions being made.  We need to keep them in the forefront of our minds.

For more on Strike IX, including more from Athas and an except from the book, click here.  To purchase your copy click here or find it on Amazon.com.

Sorry the Hiatus

Greetings readers, I apologize for the extended hiatus. I have been dealing with an injury, and have been trying to get all that in order before continuing with the blog. But now that I have that all settled I can continue my blogging.
When I last left off I was preparing to throw in a scrimmage against St. Cloud State University. I got the start in that scrimmage, tossing two innings. I didn’t have my best stuff in the outing, but was able to minimize damage for the most part. I gave up one run in the first inning, and two in the second inning. I had two walks in the outing and allowed three hits to provide the three runs for SCSU. For the outing I threw 40 pitches (19 strikes, 21 balls) giving me a strike percentage of 48%. Not the best, but as I said I was able to minimize the damage.

Following SCSU I had one more outing on the mound in an intersquad scrimmage before suffering, what would be a significant injury, at the end of fall ball. I had some nagging pains in my hip and groin area throughout the fall, but nothing serious. By no means was it anything that effected my play, and therefore I didn’t think anything of it. The last week of the fall the pain started to be sharper and come more often. By the final day of fall practice it was getting to be pretty bad.

I went to the trainer and they suggested I see the team doctor over at TRIA Orthopedic Clinic in Bloomington, Minn. The day after the final fall practice I went to the doctor and had my hip checked. After initially thinking it could be a sports hernia, the doctor did some range of motion tests which he thought indicated a tear in the labrum of my left hip.
He sent me to get an MRI, which I did this week, and when the results came back the doctor’s fear was confirmed. I had a rather substantial tear of the labrum. He explained to me what this meant.

I will be having surgery this coming Thursday, where they will put me to sleep using general anesthetics, at that point they will make a small incision in the front of my hip as well as one in the side. They will go into the joint with a tiny camera, and make the repairs necessary, this is known as an arthroscopic surgery, or “hip scope”.

To the right you will see the picture of my MRI. The white in the middle is my labrum, and that black dot on it in the upper right portion is the tear.

The procedure will take about an hour and a half of actual surgery. After that I will spend the weekend recovering at my sister’s house in the western suburbs of the twin cities. My mom is flying in for the weekend to help take care of me. It won’t be easy to deal with me after the surgery as I will be a heavily sedated 195 lbs.

Recovery from this operation is typically 10 weeks to three months. This means I would hypothetically be 100% somewhere between January 7th and January 21st. Our first official practice of the season is scheduled for January 17th, meaning I am in good shape for the season. Unfortunately though this means I will be sidelined for all of the off-season lifting and conditioning, meaning I will be a step or two behind the rest of my teammates when practice kicks off.

As for my goal of becoming a weekend starter, that is not currently the case, as I met with my coach last week. But after my meeting I can set a goal of being the best reliever possible to help this team win games. I was informed that I would begin the year as one of the top guys out of the bullpen, with the chance to throw 30 to 40 big innings. I was told I would not be a guy that throws in blowouts this year, I would be turned to with the game on the line and be expected to win games for us out of the bullpen, and with the potential to get some spot starts.

It might not of been my goal, but it is a role that I will gladly accept. Anything I can do to help this team win is what I want to do. Being a weekend starter may have been one of my goals, but my number one goal in baseball has always been to win a championship, and I will do whatever it takes to get us to that point.

So for now what I can do to help this team is to get this surgery and rehab it back to strength so I can back our starters up out of the bullpen.

I will not be taking any more lengthy stretches off from writing. I will be keeping readers up to date on my recovery from surgery, my rehab, and life in general as a D2 baseball player.

Sorry again for the long hiatus, I appreciate anyone that take the time to read my blogs.

Always chasing after dreams.

From Pawlowski’s Dugout

Underneath his burnt orange and navy blue baseball uniform is a man who admired Yankees’ catcher Thurmond Munson during his youth and went against the moral conduct of baseball by finding a liking for both the Yankees and the Red Sox. This dedicated father of three runs marathons in his spare time, while upholding his distinguished coaching career. Meet John Pawlowski, Auburn University ‘s head baseball coach.

A sixth round draft pick for the Chicago White Sox, Pawlowski made his major league debut in September 1987. After playing seven years for Chicago, the Clemson University graduate spent time with the California Angels and the Baltimore Orioles before returning to his alma mater to begin his coaching career.

“It was going into the parks and into Fenway Park and seeing the history, going into Yankee Stadium and seeing the monuments,” said Pawlowski of his favorite major league memories. “I grew up in upstate New York , so I grew up watching them [the Yankees] and knew a lot about the history. I think that was the greatest thing [about playing in the majors]—having the opportunity to actually be out there and be around those monuments,” Pawlowski said.

Pawlowski’s success at Auburn can be defined by last season’s 43-21 (.672) record, marking the team’s first trip to the Southeastern Conference tournament in six years. The team not only won the SEC West, but also set a new school record for most SEC wins in a season.

“When we got an opportunity to host [the College World Series Regional] it was awesome. It was an unbelievable experience for our players, for our fans and for Auburn . It was a great accomplishment,” Pawlowksi said.

Although Auburn ‘s accomplishments are plentiful under Pawlowski, who is entering his third season, he is sure to remind his players that games are not solely about winning. In December 2007, Pawlowski’s second daughter, 16-year-old Mary Louise, was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer. Though his mind may occasionally drift from his routine duties at Plainsman Park to the health of his daughter, Pawlowski uses the battle as inspiration and reflection on the moral lessons he teaches his players.

“There is more than just winning and losing a baseball game. Life is a tremendous challenge and we all face some type of adversity or obstacle in our life,” Pawlowski said. “It is how you choose to deal with it. Everyone has a story to tell- good, bad or indifferent, and I think we can learn from each other.”

Pawlowski’s Tigers seek to improve upon last year’s commendable season by keeping their eyes set on Omaha . The Auburn head coach reminds himself each day of this goal by a simple glance at a small picture kept in his office of Rosenblatt Stadium’s imminent replacement.

“We want to win a national championship,” Pawlowski said. “That is our ultimate goal.”

Dear Nick…

Dear Nick…

What are your thoughts on Rosenblatt Stadium, the decades long home of the College World Series, being torn down? I put Rosenblatt up there with Wrigley Field and Fenway as sacred baseball grounds. What about the memories that have been made between those chalk lines!? When the stadium is bulldozed we’ll lose all that and will never be able to get them back.

- Marc A., Branson, Missouri

Marc, I can’t disagree with you more. Those magical memories and games were played on the field, not in the stands. Sure there have been some awesome moments there, but that’s no reason to keep playing in the same stadium.

Rosenblatt has had so many facelifts to accommodate the growing crowds over the years it should be called Jocelyn Wildenstein Stadium. The popularity of college baseball has risen to unprecedented popularity levels and the series and surrounding events have outgrown the sixty year old ballpark.

Let me put it this way…. Should I have kept sleeping on the same futon I had in college just because I had some magical moments of my own played out there? Heck no! I upgraded to the Historie rotating round bed with the cantilevered, padded headrest and satin and velvet crimson comforter the first opportunity I had. Once I added the custom made Egyptian 400 thread count shams, the memories got bigger and better if you know what I mean. Out with the old and in with the new baby!

Renowned stadiums like Wrigley and Fenway are known for their colorful characteristics, not their colorful places to sit. The only thing distinguishing about Rosenblatt is its triband seat coloring. What was your favorite feature of Rosenblatt? Was it the tiny walkways which congested like Hugo Reyes’ heart between innings? Maybe you liked the lack of leg room which forced you to get a face full of someone’s crotch when they take tiny sidesteps on their way to the aisle? Or are you a fan of the rusty, paint pealing urinal troughs in the men’s room? There is nothing eccentric or unique about the joint that makes it a great place to play or catch a game. I’d rather see teams play at the field from “Brewster’s Millions” where the train went through the outfield. At least that place had some personality.

You need to give up the ghost on Rosenblatt. You won’t be griping next spring after you’re sitting in the stands of the new ballpark.

What did you think about the Golden Spikes Award for the nation’s best amateur baseball player going to Bryce Harper considering he didn’t play DI baseball?

- Ronald K, Las Angeles , CA

Yasnani Grandal, you was robbed. That’s what I think.

I think Harper winning the Golden Spikes was the single greatest voting injustice since Marc Cohn upset Color Me Badd for Best New Artist in 1992. Bryan, Kevin, Mark and Sam should have that Grammy on their shelves and most certainly would have if CMB and Boys II Men hadn’t split the vote. They had five hit songs off their debut album and “I Adore Mi Amor” led to a number of the aforementioned magical futon moments from the first question.

I don’t give a hoot that Harper established conference homerun marks with a wood bat or surpassed the record for use of emotions inhis Facebook posts. The only thing that impresses me is how he is able to fill his face with so much eye-black that the Ultimate Warrior would tell him he needs to tone it down.

Harper amassed his numbers batting against pitchers from powerhouse teams like Gateway Community College (home of the Geckos!), the College of Eastern Utah (the Golden Eagles), the College of Southern Idaho (also the Golden Eagles) and eight games against the stat feeding friendly Colorado Northwestern Community College Spartans (who were 1-39 in conference).

Harper has shown he has the physical ability to play at the big league level, but stories of his attitude (not to mention images of his pseudo-mohawk and hot pink tie) are disturbing. Even the Google machine knows about his smug personality. Type in “Bryce Harper” and then type and “a” and “Bryce Harper Attitude” will be a suggestion. Put in his name and then type “co” and “Bryce Harper cocky” will be listed.

It’s not all his fault though. Being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was sixteen had to inflate his ego. That kind of fame and celebrity can charge a guy up too quick. When I was in middle school I was featured in “Highlights” magazine in an article on raising a gorilla baby. It wasn’t long after that the girls, the drugs and money started rolling in. I couldn’t take it. I admit it. I soon found myself unconscious in a West Hollywood alley with The Two Coreys. I wish to God that I would have had the mindset and support system to cope with the fame. Instead I’m writing for some third-rate Internet website instead of a national print magazine or hosting my own show on ESPN.

What happened to my beloved Texas Longhorns last season? With their touted pitching staff everyone had UT on the top of their preseason lists, but they didn’t make it to the Series. What’s the prognostication for 2011?

- Tiffani H, San Antonio , Texas

You answered the question yourself. It was Texas ‘ pitching that made them formidable, not the team as a whole. There just weren’t enough bats to propel the Texas team into the final eight. You need both pitching and hitting to advance to Omaha .

Pitching without hitting is like Ray Tango with Gabriel Cash. Sure Tango’s gonna kick some ass and put some bad boys behind bars, and Cash certainly was no slouch when it came to getting drugs off the street hiimself, but until they paired up they didn’t put that slimy kingpin Yves Perret in the pokey.

Like Tango’s styled hair and fancy wardrobe, the Horns pitching staff was slick and impressive. Starters Taylor Jungmann, Cole Green and Brandon Workman were the three piece suit and closer Chance Ruffin was the slicked back coif that shortened the game. Texas won a lot of games, but they needed that rugged t-shirt and jeans wearing offense that played by its own rules to advance to the final round. They put some runs on the board, but not the Cash type runs that are the signature of a champion.

Jungmann and Green will be back in the rotation next year and will be likely joined by Hoby Milner who has a lot of the Tango type attributes you look for in a pitcher. The offense still concerns me though. However they have a couple new freshmen named Dex Kjerstad and Jacob Felts and their names alone are enough for me to think that can be the rule bending, but not breaking, offensive stars that Gabe Cash would be proud of.

Taking the Good with the Bad

Today was a bullpen day to get pitchers ready for our double-header scrimmage with St. Cloud State University on Saturday. We were each scheduled to throw one inning or 15 pitches, whatever came first. And today for me, that was the latter.

I was scheduled to throw in the middle of the scrimmage, so I had some time before I had to warm up when we got to the field. After running and stretching I played some light catch with one of the other pitchers just to get my shoulder to feel loose. After that it was time to take pregame infield and outfield while the starting pitcher got warm. During I/O as its called, pitchers take turns covering first base on ground balls hit to the right side of the infield. After going through our complete pregame routine, it was scrimmage time.

The first pitchers took the mound, and everything was flowing smoothly. I stood behind the batting cage and helped with keeping strike percentage and average velocity for fellow pitchers as they threw. As time neared towards my inning I started to get ready to pitch by playing catch with the pitcher that would throw after me. As it came time to start to throw off the mound in the bullpen I could not find a catcher. We have three catchers on our team, and all of them were unavailable. One catcher was catching in the scrimmage, one was on base after getting a hit, and the other was currently playing left field. I felt an almost sense of panic when I realized I would not be able to begin warming up in the bullpen until the next inning started, and if the pitcher before me had a quick 1-2-3 inning, I might not be loose in time to take the mound.

Once I finally found a catcher I started to frantically warm up, and as I feared the pitcher before me had a great inning. I was able to get my arm loose to pitch, but I didn’t take the time to get my mind locked in to execute pitches. As someone that has struggled with control in the past, it is key for me to get my mind locked in and focused. Concentration is the biggest key to executing successful pitches.

I took the mound and delivered my warm up pitches trying to get my mind in the right place. As always the warm up pitches go quick, and the first hitter steps in. The first batter I faced is a returning all conference player, one that hit .410 last season from the left side. I know that as a left-handed pitcher, if I do not get one of the starting rotation spots, that I need to prove that I can dominate left-handed hitters as a reliever. My first fastball sailed up and in for ball one. The second pitch was a good down-in-the-zone fastball, which Lippy dropped the barrel on, but could not get enough of it to drive the other way, and became a pop up victim to the left fielder. The second hitter, a right-handed stick,  worked the count to 3-2 before I left a fastball low and away and walked him. I hate walks, instant frustration. One pitch can still get me out of this unscathed. The next hitter also worked the count to 3-2, but couldn’t get the bat on a fastball and struck out swinging. The final batter watched a first pitch curve ball over the middle of the plate for strike two, then watched a fastball for ball two. On the 2-2 count I threw what I felt was a great curve ball that the catcher caught in the heart of the plate. But I’m not the umpire, and our collection of coaches overwhelmingly decided that the pitch had curved around the plate. On 3-2 another fastball was lost low and away and the hitter walked. How can you walk two guys in an inning? You need to be battling with a full count. I was frustrated with myself, and to make matters worse I didn’t get the opportunity to finish the inning off, that walk came on pitch number 15.

I wanted to finish off the inning, but had to understand that this was simply a bullpen session to get ready to pitch on Saturday. I got my final statistics for the session. 15 pitches, six strikes, nine balls for just a 40% strike percentage. Not good. Now I was really down, but I didn’t have much time to be down. My coach called me over and said TK wanted to work with me in the bullpen. (TK is Tom Kelly, former manager of the Minnesota Twins, World Series Champion 1987 and 1991). TK took me to the bullpen and said that I needed to make one minor adjustment to get my consistency in the strike zone back. He said I was rushing a little bit today and not staying on my backside, especially with runners on base. I threw maybe ten pitches in the pen with TK and he had plenty to say about each one. He is a perfectionist, and he had me throw until I had the ball on a downward plane, hitting the glove on the bottom of the zone, and repeat it. Once I did it twice in a row just how he wanted, he told me that now I understand what it is that I am doing and how to fix it. I will definitely be implementing that and working on it before Saturday’s outing. Having TK there is awesome, because there are very few people that know as much about baseball as he does, and he is always looking to teach and share what he knows.

So even though I didn’t have the outing that I expect of myself, I got to understand things I need to work on and improve myself as a pitcher. Now I just have to put in the work to make the adjustments and put them into action on Saturday against SCSU. I still am throwing 57% strikes this fall through 95 in-game pitches. I really would like to get that number back up to 60% or better, which mean in the three fall outings I have left I need to pound the zone. So that is the goal for the rest of fall, get my total strike percentage to 60%. Anything less will simply not be acceptable as I try and reach my goal as a weekend starter.

Never stop working towards goals and dreams.

Life Outside of Baseball

Being a collegiate student-athlete is so much more than just sports. Baseball is just a small part of the bigger picture. There is always talk about the word “student-athlete”, and how people think they should be called “athlete-students” because athletes put their sport first. But what people need to understand is that student comes first because, if you aren’t a student, you don’t get to be an athlete. The NCAA enforces strict academic standards for athletes to remain eligible to compete in competition. These standards include GPA and progress towards graduation. If you don’t meet them, you don’t play, so we are student-athletes.

This means not only do athletes have to get themselves prepared to compete at the highest level of their sport, but also have to excel in the classroom. I have been working hard in the classroom all semester. I am a communications major, and working towards a writing minor as well. As a junior I have completed most of my general education classes, and am really starting to focus in on classes for my major and minor.

This semester I also have the added responsibility of my internship in the Concordia University Sports Information Office. Part of my responsibility for this internship is writing articles for our athletic website, www.cugoldenbears.com, working athletic events, and creating other projects for the athletic department. This Saturday I had to play many different roles. As part of fundraisers for the baseball team we setup for the football games on Saturday mornings. I joined my teammates for work before the game. Once the game started I had to switch roles to intern, where I had to head to the press box to help with keeping stats and player participation. After football I had to finish my role as intern for the football game, and head over to the Gangelhoff Center to be the intern for the volleyball match. It was a long day, I arrived at the football stadium at 9:45 a.m. and left the Gangelhoff Center around 6:00 p.m. I have been gaining valuable experience in the sports media field along the way though.

Being a successful college baseball players involves every aspect of your life. How you play and practice is just a portion. It also includes how you eat, how you sleep, how you study, how you spend your free time. Everything matters and combines to make each person the student-athlete you are.

I hope that I can continue to be successful in and out of the classroom, and on and off the baseball field. We are down to the final two weeks of our fall practices, and getting down to our last chances to make lasting impressions on the coaching staff before we find out where we stand heading into the spring. Saturday will be the coaches best chance to evaluate players as we are playing a double-header scrimmage against St. Cloud State University. Last season we played about 25 innings against SCSU in our fall scrimmage. This year we are scheduling it as two 7-inning games, and seven of our pitchers will each throw two innings, myself included in that group.

As I try to make my last impressions on the coaching staff I will also get to have the joy of having some family watching. My dad is making the trip out from our hometown in Colorado to spend the weekend visiting here in Minnesota. My sister, her husband, and their adorable two-year old daughter live in a suburb nearby in Minnesota, and hopefully all four will be in the stands as I pitch this weekend.

Trying to finish off the fall right, and working towards my goal to be a weekend starter this season.