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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Have Wheels, Will Travel (providing you have a playable field)

Minnesota State "hosted" MSU-Moorhead April 7th
at Gustavus. The Mavericks have yet to play a game in Mankato.
As the Minnesota State baseball and softball teams try to stay hot in conference play, they are also spending their whole season trying to stay warm in their dugouts.

Due to the “normal” spring weather that Minnesota has provided, both squads are scrambling just get as many games in as they can.

According to MSU baseball head coach Matt Magers the team doesn’t expect they will be playing where their schedule says anymore. After getting 14 games in the Metrodome and eight games down in Florida in March, the squad has only played on their own field for four games.
Back near the end of March, the Mavericks had a four-game conference series slated with Northern State, but both teams didn’t have a playable field. The Mavericks and the Wolves ended up driving to Rapid City, S. D., home of junior outfielder Parker Sullivan, to get those games in.

A week later the team found themselves in the same situation as the University of Mary didn’t have a playable field so they drove an hour and a half west of Bismark, N.D., to Dickinson, N.D., for the doubleheader.

Mapquest tells us that the Mavericks drove more than 2,100 miles to get those six games in.

On April 14-15, the Mavericks had to go south to Sioux City, Iowa for their four games against Southwest Minnesota State.

 “It can take a toll on the body, sitting there for so many hours, but we just want to get out and play. We will drive that distance just to get some games in,” said utility infielder Lucas Skjefte.

Senior catcher Ben Keller has accepted all the challenges they have faced this season with the traveling and they just have to roll with it.

“It’s nothing like playing at home, but we deal with it,” Keller said. “It’s baseball and we are young guys.”

The softball team has found themselves in a similar situation, but the team has been fortunate enough to use sports domes to get its games in. The Mavericks have played four games in Rochester, Minn., at the RCTC Dome, six games at the sports dome in Savage, Minn., and they traveled to Saint Peter, Minn., to use Gustavus’s turf football field for games vs. Northern State and MSU-Moorhead, respectively.
Softball head coach Lori Meyer has been through this before in her 28 seasons here and it’s just something the team needs to work through.

“We’ve had other difficult springs, but I think it’s much more glaring this year because the last couple of years we haven’t had that many (cancellations) and again with the expanded schedule and travel this one has been a challenge,” said Meyer.

The overall atmosphere going through the two squads is frustration, especially for the softball team as they haven’t even had a home game at MSU so far this season and we're nearing the end of April.

“We are just really frustrated at this point and we just want to be able to play outside. I couldn’t imagine being a senior and not being able to have a home game in your last season,” said junior infielder Lindsay Erickson.

To look at it in a positive way, both teams are having the most luck getting games in in the NSIC. The baseball team has put in 18 conference games in the books and that is the most in the conference, compared to teams like Minot State who has only played eight.

“We think it’s pretty bad here, but it’s worse somewhere else and that’s the case with some teams in our conference haven’t played a home game yet and they might not this year,” Magers said.

Even though this isn’t what the teams has signed up for, some of the players have embraced all of the driving and traveling as they enjoy the time they have with their teammates.

“Some of the best times we have are on the bus rides, 10 hours out to Bismark or out to Rapid City. We have a lot of fun on the bus and kind of enjoy that,” Skjefte said.

                                                                                      - Joey Denton, intern, Athletic Communications



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