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The 2011 Season has Arrived

The season official season is upon us, and there are many things to report.

First off, practice started as we returned to school on January 17th. Right away we got into the thick of things with pitchers throwing live to hitters in our indoor facility known as, “the pole barn,” going over bunt defenses and first-and-third defenses in the Concordia Dome where we can get more realistic ground balls on the turf, and of course our hitters getting as many hacks as possible.

We have been trying to hone all aspects of the game as we prepare to start our season on March 5th in Orlando, Florida against West Chester (PA) University. We are all anxious for the season to start. Travel rosters for the spring break trip to Florida have already been set, so now it is just preparing ourselves to compete against guys in different color jerseys.

Personally, I have been continuing my rehab from off-season surgery. I feel like I am getting stronger everyday and continue to feel more confident in the strength of my hip. I have thrown three live bullpens thus far, and have my fourth live session scheduled for tomorrow. My throwing sessions so far have been two sets of 15 pitches (all fastballs), one set of 20 pitches (all fastballs), and two sets of 15 pitches (all fastballs). Tomorrow is scheduled to be three sets of 15 pitches (fastballs, changeups, and cutters). I am excited to start mixing up my pitches, but we are still not throwing breaking balls quite yet.

The point of throwing multiple sessions of just fastballs is for our pitching staff to establish their fastball and throw strikes with it. Everything works off a pitchers ability to throw strikes with their fastball, and then use their other pitches to mess with hitters. Our strike percentages have been phenomenal thus far. I am one that struggles with control at times, but as my body continues to heal and gets stronger I have continued to progress as a pitcher. I feel confident locating my pitches right now, and as of today I have thrown 64% strikes.

Other things going on with the program has been fundraising. All players and coaches have been working a baseball tryout for a local youth baseball organization at the Concordia Dome. This is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year.

Also on the fundraising side of things, Wednesday, January 26th was our annual Gold Plate Dinner at Mancini’s Char House in St. Paul. Every player sells three tickets to the dinner and live auction. It is a great night. Last night’s guests of honor included two-time World Series winning manager Tom Kelly, two-time World Series winning first baseman Kent Hrbek, and the parents of Joe Mauer.

Both Mr. Kelly and Mr. Hrbek spoke to the crowd of players, parents, and friends. It is a fun night, and helps raise a substantial amount of money to fund our season and provide us with outstanding opportunities. This was the 12th consecutive year of the Gold Plate Dinner at Mancini’s. Aside from the dinner and guest speakers, there was also a raffle, live auction, and good humor.

The Concordia Golden Bears have exactly 25 more practices before we take off to Orlando to play eight games in eight days, including a double-header on the last day of the trip against conference foe the University of Minnesota-Crookston. The trip will also include going to a Detroit Tigers-Philadelphia Phillies spring training game in nearby Lakeland.

The preseason rankings have also been released. For the second year in a row we have been selected by the coaches to finish 8th in the NSIC. We hope that we can prove those voters wrong and move up the polls throughout the year.

Junior Bryan Lippincott was tabbed as a preseason All-American after hitting .410 last season with 10 home runs and 51 RBI’s in 52 games played. Fellow junior Troy DuBay was named a, “player to watch” in the NSIC and freshman hurler Adam Kramer was named a, “newcomer to watch.”

I know that everyone is excited to get our season started, and we all hope that we can make a push to the postseason this year.

-Go Golden Bears-