Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana baseball ready for 2015 season

Sophmore Cayton Wallace tries to tag runner junior Nathan Gray during practice. Photo by Alex Cintado.

Sophmore Cayton Wallace tries to tag runner junior Nathan Gray during practice.  Photo by Alex Cintado.
Sophmore Cayton Wallace tries to tag runner junior Nathan Gray during practice.
Photo by Alex Cintado.

The Augustana men’s baseball team plans to build off of both old and new talent in hopes of advancing to the NCAA Finals this season, despite an abrupt end to their successful 2014 season.
“Last year was a great year for us winning the conference,” said head coach Greg Wallace. “I thought the team just showed a lot of perseverance throughout the year in terms of the way they matured and fought through some struggles to be able to have a chance to win the league outright and host the conference tournament.”
Despite winning the CCIW outright last season, the Vikings did not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA regional tournament, which came as a bit of a surprise to much of the team.
“I felt like we had a very strong season last year, we ended up winning conference, which was a big plus, and I think all-around we had a team that really could have made it far,” said senior outfielder Dan Fifer. “We kind of got jipped a little bit with regionals, but we can’t focus on things that happened last season; so, now we’re focusing what we can do this year.”
The Vikings will return a number of key players, including Fifer, and senior pitcher Seth Davis who has been a key component of the pitching staff for the past few seasons. He has also earned All-American honors; so, coach Wallace is looking to Davis to be a leader on the pitching staff.
“There’s another good group of junior [pitchers] right behind [Davis] who played quite a few innings last year for us,” said Wallace. “Offensively we’ve returned a number of position players that were everyday players for us. We have some offense from last year’s team that we have to replace, and I think we’ll rely on our pitching and defense and try to keep that going.”
The team will travel to Florida over spring break to prepare for conference play, which will begin later this spring. Their first stop will be Winter Haven, Fla.  where they will face teams from all around the country. Both the varsity and junior varsity teams will have opportunities to compete at that location. After Winter Haven, the team will travel to Fort Meyers and then Jacksonville, where they will face Luther College from Decorah, IA and Carlton from Minnesota.
According to Coach Wallace, things have been going well for only having practiced a full week. “The first week of practice is usually just getting back into the swing of things,” said Wallace. “But the first week has been going well, we’re trying to build off the next three weeks and be ready for the season opener.”
Wallace added that the team will be sure to get 10 games in over the break, in order to avoid players having to miss class.
“It’s something different than what we’ve done in the past,” said Wallace.
Not only is the team trip to Florida a great competitive experience, it’s also a great bonding opportunity for the players.
“It’s a great bonding experience for us, we learn a lot about each other being together for two weeks straight and going on a 24-hour bus trip to get there,” said Fifer. “We joke around, play pranks on each other in the hotel rooms, and it ends up being a great time.”
Coaches and players alike hope that the preseason preparation in Florida allows the team to get adequately prepared for the regular season. The season will begin with a home game against Rockford College on Mar. 21.
Though the Vikings use Florida as a tool for preparation for the regular season, they will use the regular season to reach their goal of post-season success. “I think all the guys want to get to regionals this year and advance to the national championship in Appleton, Wis.,” said Fifer.

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Augustana baseball ready for 2015 season