Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Hole Nine Innings

Yesterday was a tough game because we had so many chances in each game but didn't capitalize on them. Baseball is a cruel game where you can be focused for 99 percent of the game, but if you take one second off, it is in that time where all hell can break loose and you find yourself chasing three, four runs. One of these days we will begin to tighten the screws and play a full nine innings and when that happens...look out!

OTHER NOTES: Today's double-header at Wheaton has been postponed and has been rescheduled for tomorrow...with a twist. The game will now be played at The Zimm at noon with the Cardinals and Thunder splitting time on the scoreboard as home team. It is unclear at this point which game we will be the home squad. This will also change next week's April 8th game against Wheaton. That game will now be played at Alexian Field, home of the Schaumburg Flyers.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

One in the Books

The first conference game is under our belt and unlike other firsts this year, we do not have to use it as a learning experience. Although there were moments where we weren't at our best, it is much easier to work on those things after a win. We held on for win number two on the year but more importantly it's a 1-0 start in the CCIW. We travel to Augustana tomorrow for a double-header in which we will be the home team in one of the games.

In general, the team played great but the pitching staff, who has been under such scrutiny lately, came up big. Mike Kloss battled into the 8th inning and Ricky Foytik and Matt Blaine helped get out of a bases loaded, nobody out situation and only gave up one run. Dusty Gilbreth singled home the eventual game-winner and Kevin Krajewski ("Juice") may have found his calling in the 9th inning by nailing down the save. It's a great start, but the CCIW is a grind and there's a long way to go.

A special thanks to all the North Central and Augustana fans who stuck it out today. I know it was a typical Chicago spring day but it was still miserable conditions to watch a game and your support is appreciated!

One more note...the home uniforms looked awesome with the black sleeves underneath with the black hat and red bill. Whoever helped decide the color scheme this year was spot on!

Full View of Photos

Off to a Great Start

What a day! I finally get to write to you on a positive note after North Central defeated #18 Augustana at the Zimm today by a score of 7-6. This game showed the character of our team and how we battled back down 5-1 early. I was glad to see some of our hometown fans in the stands today as I was able to say hello to the Kloss's, the Robinson's, and Mrs. Heller when I was heading into our home clubhouse. Maybe their extra support helped us to come through against a very good Augustana ballclub.

So about the game.......there is a whole host of people to acknowledge for this win. Starting pitcher Mike Kloss pitched one heck of a game bouncing back from an early 5-1 deficit. He got locked in after that and gave us a chance to win the game. That's all we want out of a starting pitcher and Mike is a prime example of this each and every time he takes the bump. He truly is a gamer.

Ricky Foytik came in to relieve Kloss and got an enormous out with the bases loaded. Ricky is a key to our success because he has been the heart of that bullpen for the past two seasons. Matt Blaine made his season debut relieving Ricky and managed to get out of a big jam with only one run. I was happy to see Blaino back on the mound after the off season arm surgery that he encountered. He has worked himself all the way back and hopefully he will be a big help for us.

In the 8th Robby (Nick Robinson) got on and eventually reached 2nd base. This is where the drama occurred. Catcher Dusty Gilbreth hit a seeing-eye single through the right side, barely getting under the glove of the second basemen. Robby scored and we took a one run lead into the ninth. I was so happy to see Dusty come through for his team in such a big spot. He has been a part of the program for four seasons and has put countless hours into the game. He is one of the nicest human beings that you will ever cross and does everything he is asked to do and then some. Just a great worker and there aren't enough positive things that could be said about the guy.

Kevin Krajewski came on in the top of the 9th and sealed the deal. I had 2 putouts in this inning and it was awfully tough to get a good read on a fly ball with the color of the sky and the blistering cold wind piercing my face. The last out of the game felt like an eternity to come down from the sky off the bat of Augustana hitter Aaron Hopson. I made sure to get both hands on the baseball to secure the W for our team.

After the game I presented Matt Blaine the game ball because he really came on in a tough spot and bailed the team out after Ricky got a big out. There is a saying that I love and thought I'd share it with you: "Victory happens when 10,000 hours of training meet one moment of opportunity." Now I don't know if Blaino spent 10,000 getting his arm back to shape, but he spent a lot of time to get back to where he is. I am very happy for our entire team with this win. It took all the guys to pull this one off. The dugout was very alive and I hope we can keep this rolling against conference opponents. See you next time!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring Trip Photo Gallery

To clear up any confusion among fans, tomorrow's home opener with Augustana begins at 12:00 pm not 1:00 pm. The weather forecast is calling for rain but there is a good chance we will be able to play some baseball...it will just be a little cold.

As promised, the pictures from Atlanta are ready to be viewed. I took a few but I also had help from Joe Turek and Dan Cladis. WARNING: If you are still trying to forget what happened on the trip, do not look below. But if you weren't able to make it to Atlanta, here is some of what you missed.

Full View of Photos

OTHER NOTES: To receive an emailed copy of the Dugout Club Newsletter, send me an email at esbunnell@noctrl.edu. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out the latest issue.

The 2009 Media Guide has been published and is available to view on the web. But you can click here for a direct link.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Broadcast Ourself

It was a disappointing trip to say the least but hopefully we come out of it a better team. On the bright side, we are still undefeated in the central time zone. But the new season starts on Saturday with our conference and home opener against Augustana. Obviously Augustana is a tough team but that is why we scheduled tough non-conference games against Franklin, Emory and Oglethorpe so that we are prepared for CCIW play.

A photo gallery should be ready to be posted sometime tomorrow once I have a chance to edit the pics. A new feature to the blog is The Coach's Cave YouTube channel which made its debut today. The channel will feature any game footage, postgame interviews and anything else related to North Central baseball. Joe Turek provided footage of our batting practice rounds Monday and Tuesday becasue of a pulled hamstring that caused him to miss the Oglethorpe series (he should be back in action this weekend).

The "vacation" is over and it's time to get back to the grind. The team will have a workout tomorrow morning to get preped for the start of the CCIW schedule.

Home Sweet Home

Today's game vs. Toccoa Falls was canceled due to rain. So after packing up and departing from our hotel at 7:30am we arrived back on campus at about 10:45pm or so. It was a long day of thinking about the trip and some of the things that we can work on as a team to become better.

Tomorrow we have the luxury of recharging our batteries a bit before a scheduled practice on Friday to prepare for the most important part of the season which is conference. Although we will not meet as a team tomorrow, there will be guys taking swings or getting pitching work in to fine tune their mechanics before our series vs. Augustana.

The guys are excited to be back in Illinois to compete against some of the best competition Division III baseball has to offer. I think that we will be up for the challenge in the upcoming weeks to try and make some noise in the CCIW. I hope to see some of you out at the games on Saturday!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Game 2 vs. Oglethorpe University

I am holding up my end of the bargain about giving the readers something to look at after every game and I wish I had better news. I have yet to write to you after a positive outing and I regret to say that today is no different. We received an absolute thumping courtesy of Oglethorpe University. I wish there was a way to sugar code it but a 24-4 loss is tough to justify.

After the game concluded there was an unpleasant atmosphere amongst the team and that's expected. Luckily for us it is still very early in the season. Coach brought up a great point about Webster University last season. They began their 2008 campaign 0-7 and were 2 outs away from reaching the Division III World Series. This gives us a little something called HOPE. I'm going to cite Jim Tressel again and a chapter in his book entitled HOPE. He has a meaningful quote by Jean Kerr that states, "Hope is the feeling you have that the feeling you have isn't permanent." Trust me when I say that this season is long from finished and there isn't a chance in the world that we are going to throw in the towel. Nobody is going to be able to convince me otherwise. We may be feeling awful right now but this feeling certainly isn't permanent.

On a positive note.....Junior pitcher Mike Charles did something no other Cardinal pitcher could do tonight.... pitch an inning in which Oglethorpe did not score. So congrats to "Chuck." Also, Peter Romanello (Romo as we call him) and Eric Vogrin (Vogs) had a couple of great pinch hits late in the game so good for those two guys.

I won't be able to write after the ball game tomorrow since we will be departing for home directly from the ballpark. I have to admit that after we WIN tomorrow, I can't wait to get back to Naperville. The saying "There's no place like home" really holds true for me and spending time with my Mom and Dad, along with my 5 brothers, is something that I don't take for granted. I have also been hearing from a few of the guys that the parents are really enjoying the blog that Coach Bunnell has so graciously set up. We truly appreciate your support and I hope you keep tuning in. I look forward to seeing you all at the games when we get home.

27 Outs

Spring Trip: Day 5
Out number 27. It is the hardest out to get in baseball. There were a lot of tough outs during our 9-8 extra inning loss to Oglethorpe but none were tougher than that final out.

11:27 am - With a 7 o'clock start time tonight, we had the opportunity to sleep in so our day started a little later than usual. We gave the players their meal money the night before so they were on their own today. The coaching staff wanted to get out of the hotel so we took a cab into downtown Atlanta to get a feel for the city. After a quick stop outside of Turner Field, we headed into the downtown area to check out some of the sites.

After passing the State Capitol Building, we ended up at the CNN Center. We didn't take a full tour but we checked out some of the gift shops. Maybe if Robin Meade was giving her tour we would have stayed but we wanted to check out Georgia Tech's campus and get back to the hotel to get ready for tonight's game.

1:44 pm - We took a pit stop at the Georgia Tech student union and then made our way to the GT baseball field (check the blog later this week for a photo gallery of the week for pics of all the baseball facilities this week). It was a pretty nice set up, the campus itself was very clean, and their stadium reflected that. The field itself was immaculate. There were two grounds crew members cutting both the infield and outfield when we walked up to the dugout.

3:05 pm - We get back to the hotel with about an hour to spare before we depart for Oglethorpe. I was able to relax for a few minutes before getting tonight's charts ready.

4:45 pm - The bus pulled into Oglethorpe and the baseball field was right near the entrance. There was a medieval feel to the campus. I was told by some locals that the baseball field was supposed to be a fully enclosed coliseum but they never finished it when they no longer had a football team so the seating runs from home plate to the right field fence. There was a large dorm or academic building beyond right field that resembled a castle you would see at St. Andrews. The seating was set back from the field and after the nostalgia wore off, I realized that Emory offered a much better atmosphere.

5:00 pm - We were scheduled to take BP at 5 o'clock but the Oglethorpe coach changed his mind at the last minute so we didn't hit until 5:40. This wasn't a huge deal but we now had to kill 40 minutes. The players kept themselves occupied by playing flips in the bullpen and out near right field. I was talking with Bogan and Spehn about TV shows from the 80's.

7:03 pm - Matt Burke led off the game with a double to right-center and eventually scored the first of three runs that inning. Jeremiah Torres allowed one in the bottom of the first but pitched a solid five plus innings and Tyler Herman threw very well. Exactly what we were looking for out of the bullpen. We added on in the second and third to take an 8-1 lead but only managed two base runners from innings 4-9. Herman got an out in the 9th but after a bunt hit and a bloop single, we went to Dave Williams out of the pen. After falling behind 2-0, Williams had a great sequence to strike out the 3-hole hitter for the second out.

Everyone knows how the rest of the night went so the only thing I'll say is that the only way the late-inning collapses will stop is by stepping up and winning one. We need to find a killer instinct to sense when the opponent has phoned it in and given up where we can put them away. After falling behind 8-1, Oglethorpe was done. Their body language was terrible but we didn't sense that and we didn't put them away. This is something over time we will have to recognize and take advantage of if we are going to become the team we know we can be.

3:05 am - The coaches meeting ended and we retired to our respective rooms and tried to get some sleep. It is going to take a concerted effort from everyone on the team (coaches included) to get on track. Posts for days 6 & 7 will be posted along with some video and photos when we return on Thursday. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Heartbreaker: Justin Moriarty

We had Oglethorpe on the ropes and couldn't knock them out. All of our scoring was done in the first 3 innings of the game and we failed to pull away. The Cardinals were up 8-5 in the 9th with 2 outs and 2 runners on for Oglethorpe. Unfortunately for us, Oglethorpe decided to hit a 3 run home run to tie the game up and send it into extra innings. We later succumbed 9-8.

Even though this may be the most heartbreaking loss that I have ever experienced I still saw some good things. Freshman pitcher Tyler Herman really showed some guts late in the game and halted Oglethorpe when he was on the mound. I'm still getting used to the #17 on the back of someone other than former catcher Zach Ernst. I just find it humorous that the only player slimmer than myself on the team took the vacant jersey left by Zach who was as muscular as a baseball player comes.

It cannot possibly get any worse at this point because after a loss like the one we just endured the morale of the guys is at rock bottom. The beauty of this game, as everyone knows, is that the sun will be shining tomorrow. Tomorrow is a Tuesday and people around the world will be going to work or struggling through any number of hardships. We get to wake up and play ball. Isn't that something to think about? No matter how hard we think we have it or how disappointed we were after the final run scored tonight, there are many more people who have it much worse.

At the moment I would be lying to the readers if I said I wasn't still hurting due to this loss because I very much am. I want to help contribute more to my teammates and want to do the maximum possible in every game just like everyone else probably wants to do. But the fact of the matter is that isn't going to happen. Teammates need to pick each other up during the course of a game and a season and we need to do an even better job of this. Same time tomorrow.......see you then.

Spring Trip: Day 4

10:20 am - Day four started out like day three except made an addition to our coaching staff. Ok, he was already on our staff but RJ Spehn caught a red-eye from O'Hare and showed up to the hotel.

11:40 am - My arm was feeling better in time for today's BP round. It wasn't as good as the practice round last Wednesday but we finished in 34 minutes giving us plenty of time to get ready for in-and-out. We changed the BP routine a little today, adding a wiffle ball station. Group 1 started in the cage on the field, Group 2 was hitting wiffle balls in the tunnels, Group 3 was on the field for defense and Group 4 was on the field for base running.

Round 1: Sac Bunt, Drag Bunt, Sac Bunt, Drag, Bunt, Squeeze
Round 2: 4 Hit & Run
Round 3: Bunt & Run, 2 Advance Runner, 2 Drive 'em in, 5 Free Swings
Round 4: 7 Free Swings

1:05 pm - The first pitch was delivered for the second game of the series against Emory. I had a better feeling about today's game than I did yesterday. The players' approaches were much more focused before the game. We fell behind after a leadoff walk in the first but answered with three runs in the 2nd. We added another in the fourth. Emory came back to tie the game at 4 but we regained the lead 5-4. That was the story of the day...we took a lead, they would tie it, we would regain the lead and they would tie it again. Unfortunately, after they tied the game at six in the 8th inning, they added two more insurance runs. The story again was our inability to throw strikes.

After regaining the lead in the 8th, we came out and walked the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the inning who ultimately scored after another walk, a sac bunt and a 2-run single. It was a dissappointing end to the game because of Micah Yarbrough's gutsy performance on the mound. Despite the crushing blow in the bottom of the 8th, our guys would not go away. We threatened with two base runners but couldn't scrath a run across to fall 8-6.

7:30 pm - After the dissappointing loss, we decided to go out as a team and went to dinner at the ESPN Zone. It was an ok meal but it was good to get out of the hotel. We got back to the hotel and hung out for a few hours before bed check. Tomorrow is a big day to get some momentum to finish the trip.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring Trip: Day 3

10:45 am - We load up the bus and take off for Emory for the first of two with the Eagles. The national runner-up in 2007, we know we have to play some good baseball over the next two days.

11:22 am - We arrive at the field. It looks even more beautiful on game day. But once the ball is put in play, it's just another field. Emory is in the middle of their batting practice with about 20 minutes left before we get the field. My arm is hanging a little after throwing BP on Wednesday and Friday so Coach Bogan has the honors today.

12:20 pm - We finished BP and we have about ten minutes before the start of in-and-out. This year's pregame routine is a different feeling for me becuase for the past four years this was my responsibility. But Coach Fitz hits the pregame which is the way it should be so I usually struggle with finding something to do.

12:34 pm - We are in the middile of In-and-Out and I am organizing our charts for the day. We keep a pitching and velocity chart for our pitchers and a quality at-bat chart for our hitters. I also like to keep an oppoenent's pitcher tendency chart. This a chart I picked up from Joe Gilhousen while at Mount Union. The main purpose of this chart is to see if the pitcher falls into any patterns during the game. This is particularly helpful in conference when you know you will face the same pitchers later in the season or the following year. It can also help later on to see how we hit in certain counts and how many fastballs we let go or are we swinging at too many 2-0 curve balls.

1:05 pm - The lineups have been announced and the National Anthem has been played and it's time to play ball. Mike Kloss is on the mound today and thusfar, the only pitcher with a win on the season.

4:14 pm - The game is over and we fell 8-2. We took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first thanks to a leadoff double from Matt Burke and an RBI-single from Joe Turek. It could have been a bigger lead but we couldn't move runners over and subsequently drive them in. Outside of a Joe Heller solo shot in the fifth, we didn't do much else on the day. The story of the day, as it has been all year, have been the pitchers inability to throw strikes. When our pitchers fell behind on the first pitch, Emory hit .588; when our pitchers threw a first-pitch strike, they only hit .338. THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY POINTS! That is the difference one pitch can make. There isn't much else to say to a pitcher when a stat like that is staring you in the face.

7:40 pm - It was a quiet dinner between the coaching staff. It was only one game on the trip and there was no sense dwelling on it. We know we are a much better team than we showed and there is a lot of better baseball ahead and that's the beuty of baseball...there is always a game the next day.

Game 2: Justin Moriarty

Game 2 ended in an 8-6 loss for the Cardinals today vs. Emory. We played a good ball game for the most part but it just came down to lack of execution at the end that contributed to our loss. It's very easy for frustration to start building up after a 1-5 start to the season but the guys need to be mentally tough for the remainder of this trip and head into conference on a bit of a roll. Micah Yarbrough pitched an excellent game for us and had Emory hitters off balance for most of the day. Scott Randecker came in relief for Micah and pitched well. It helps that the bullpen can come in and continue the good work of a starter.

The defense was certainly present in game 2 as well. Joe Heller made 2 spectacular plays at second base. Nick Robinson also made a great play bare-handing a fast rolling bunt to throw the runner out at first. Robby (as he is called by his teammates) also had a successful day at the plate. Steve Hlavac added a diving catch in left field to minimize the damage of an Emory rally.

I really enjoy reading books written by big time coaches like John Wooden and Phil Jackson. I recently came across a familiar passage in Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel's, The Winners Manual. In high school when I was struggling as a Sophomore on the Varsity my Mom gave me this saying on a wallet sized card and I have kept it ever since.

A Winner's Creed

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don't;
If you'd like to win, but think you can't,
It's almost a cinch you won't

If you think you'll lose, you're lost;
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a person's will,
It's all in the state of mind.

Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster hand;
But sooner or later the person who wins
Is the one who thinks "I can."

This applies not only in the field of athletics, but also in the game of life. It doesn't matter what endeavor you are in, this saying can have an inpact on what you do. I want our guys or any recruit thinking about playing baseball for North Central to read this and seriously analyze what A Winner's Creed is saying. I'm confident we as a team will get this ship moving in the right direction before the conference season starts next week but it needs to be all of us working together and believing in what we are doing.

I'll be writing again after our game tomorrow. It should be up by about 11pm Central time. Until then.....

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Game 1: Justin Moriarty

The ball just wasn't falling in our favor today against Emory. We hit balls hard here and hard there but they found the glove of the opponent more than the open green grass. Mike Kloss pitched well through 5 innings of baseball today and our defense was solid as well but the Cardinals just couldn't muster up enough hits to push runs across. With developing teams I have found this to be a theme. Either the offense is on and the pitching and defense is off. Or the pitching and defense is on and the offense is off. We have to find a way to consistently put these facets of the game together for an entire 9 inning ballgame.

One thing I hate doing after a loss (especially if I didn't play well) is having to call my mom and break the news that it wasn't a great day on the ball field. But no matter how poorly I do in a game she always has her words of encouragement. I can go 0-4 with 4 Strikeouts and not have a stain on my jersey and she would say "It's OK, you did you're best." I have 5 brothers, all of whom are involved in athletics and every one of us hates failure on the field. But we all know that once we get home we will have the support from our #1 fan.......MOM.

Just thinking about this makes me forget about today and focus on the next task at hand which is another ballgame vs. Emory tomorrow.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Trip: Days 1 & 2

Finals ended earlier this week and it's time to get back into baseball. For the past four years, spring break has signified the start of the season. But with our trip to Franklin two weeks ago we at least have a few games under our belt. One concern we have with the layoff is what affect it will have on our hitters. We came back from Franklin hitting .394 but haven't seen live pitching in what will be 13 days. We did our best at practice to make sure we saw live cage throwing, but anyone will tell you it's not the same.

Day 1
It was a long week having to finish up a paper and presentation for one of my grad classes, combine that with compiling notes for scouting reports on all three teams we

7:25 am - We start loading the bus in five minutes. I was in the office until about 10:30 the night before getting things ready for the trip but we also have a junior varsity game on Sunday so there were some added items on the to-do list.

8:10 am - The bus is loaded and we're off. We're scheduled to arrive in Atlanta at around 11:00 pm EST. I didn't bring a pillow which was stupid. I've only had about six hours of sleep the past two nights combined so I'm setting myself up for a sore neck later on.

8:45 pm - After a short nap I woke up and we had stopped for dinner. But because of some traffic through Nashville and an accident later on, we were a little behind schedule. But looking out the window we were only miles from the Georgia border so that was promising.

11:48 pm - We rolled into the hotel parking lot a shade before midnight. The entire trip lasted about 15 hours but it was pretty uneventful. It was about as uneventful as you could imagine. Every spring break I've ever had has been spent in Florida until now. It was always a 20-hour trip so the 15 hours with stops seems like nothing.

Day 2
8:40 am - I went to bed hoping to catch up on some sleep. The only thing on the schedule today was a practice at 4:00 so there wasn't a wake-up call today. I was so tired I couldn't sleep so I laid in bed watching TV until around 2:30 am. I was going to meet Coach Bogan for breakfast in the lobby which I did but I didn't eat anything. I ended up falling asleep in the common area in our suite but it was only for 20 minutes. I'm trying the Cosmo Kramer method of sleeping and it's working about as well as it did for him.

2:30 - I woke up from yet another 20-minute nap to the sound of housekeeping banging on my door. But that was a good thing because we were leaving for practice in 15 minutes. This was the only thing on the schedule today so it was the only thing I was looking forward to.

3:33 pm - We arrived on the campus of Emory and it is gorgeous! It could have been because of the temperature was in the upper-60's. But the grass was just mowed and the sun was glistening of the grass. It was what you expect to see in a Hollywood film not on the campus of a D3 college program.

4:45 pm - After the hitters went through a batting practice round in their tunnels we went through about 35 minutes of defense. It was nothing but great hops in the infield and the frat house beyond left field provided the soundtrack for the afternoon while they kicked off their weekend. It was a good practice, short and sweet and most importantly on a baseball field.

11:33 pm - The day is winding down while I am watching Cleveland State gear up for an upset bid against Wake Forest in the NCAA tournament. Everything is set for tomorrow, scouting reports are printed, charts are ready. All we have to do now is get up and play. This is the best time of the year, no school, no work, just baseball. It doesn't get any better than this.

Atlanta Arrival: Justin Moriarty

Well after close to 15 hours of travel the North Central baseball team has arrived at its destination in Atlanta, Georgia. We are thrilled to have finals week in our rear view mirror and look forward to playing baseball in the South for the next week. I will be reporting after every game on this trip (win or lose) to try and give readers a description of what the day was like. I hope that the next few posts are of the positive variety. Until then.........

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Two in a Row

That's two in a row. One more and that's called a winning streak. Okay, we're not talking about wins yet since we haven't played since returning but Franklin. But since our return we've only had a few practices inside...and we just hit in the cages against live pitching. So we've enjoyed the past week outside in the fresh air. But the last two days we've been on the field. OUR field, the baseball field. We've done this while in the midst of finals week which is particularly difficult on players and coaches alike. For the most part, we've had pretty good attendance at practice. The schedules have worked out so our players have finished their exams in time to make it to practice.

One of the benefits of the trimester schedule is that the typical class load is smaller. So when it comes to finals week, a student will usually only have three finals at the most. This definitely makes it easier, or at least reduces some of the stress associated with college final exams.

We have one more workout today before we pack things up and head for the A-T-L on Thursday. We should have some video footage of the trip. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Site Launched

After much anticipation, the College has launched the new athletic site. I can't even begin to say how much better it is than the old one. Much of the information is the same, speaking solely on content, but the graphics and navigation blow the old site out of the water! There are also many new features including live stats, RSS feeds, text updates and much more. It is a nice recruiting tool and it's also a great way to keep family and friends connected to the program with live feeds and a weekly sports report. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the plug for The Coach's Cave as well as a link to the newsletter that we send out. Now all we have to do is find a way to record some more "W's" so people want to check out the site!

Monday, March 9, 2009

White-Knuckle Weekend

It was great to get outside on an actual baseball field. I still feel that way despite losing three of four against Franklin College. Aside from the 1-3 record, it was a tough weekend because that record could have been reversed. We had leads in three of the four games but couldn't keep them off the scoreboard. It was like watching someone play X-Box with all the balls flying out of the yard. But it was the same for both teams. One word can sum up the entire weekend...execution. The fact is, we didn't execute when we needed to. We didn't execute when we had a lead in the last inning of the season opener. We didn't execute at any point we had a lead. We didn't execute when we had chances to extend leads. And we didn't execute when we were trailing and we had opportunities to come back.

There were a lot of positives. We hit .394 as a team, hit 10 HR (we only hit 20 as a team the entire 2008 season) and scored 48 runs. We know we are never out of a ballgame. We erased several deficits during the four games. Now all we have to do is throw it and catch it. It sounds simple enough.

The drive home was an experience. Nothing like what my alma mater went through but it was still a struggle battling the high winds on I-65 through Indiana. The conditions treated the vans like a rag doll. Every wind gust seemed like that was the one that could knock us off the highway. But we're all home safe just before midnight. It is very easy to lose sleep during the year, it's even easier when you switch time zones the same weekend of daylight savings time.

We have a two weeks before our next games which is plenty of time to get right. It's time to get back to work.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Correspondents: Justin Moriarty

It was great getting outside and competing for the first time this season today. Even though we were not victorious we did a number of things well. The offense looked good and hit well in great offensive conditions putting up 15 and 12 runs respectively. However, we as a team did not do enough things to win today and sometimes that happens.

The Cardinals got great contributions from new players and that is something to look forward to in 2009. Freshman Joe Turek and Sophomore shortstop Matt Burke both had great days offensively. But like I said before, the entire lineup hit well. Today has excited me for the potential season this team is capable of having. The goal each day is to take steps forward and try to rack some wins under our belt before heading into the conference season.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Correspondents: Justin Moriarty

You could say that today constitutes as a beautiful day. Not only is the weather great and baseball will be played this weekend, but I also finished my last observed lesson before student teaching next Fall which takes a tremendous load off of my shoulders. The reason I am writing today as opposed to my usual Friday entries is because tomorrow there will simply not be time to blog. I have to teach a lesson tomorrow morning at Waubonsie Valley, followed by class and I need to designate a time to pack for this weekend in Franklin, Indiana.

There are 4 games scheduled for this weekend and it would be extremely nice coming home with 4 victories under our belt. But baseball simply is a game that does not always go your way. All we can control is what we do on the field and how we execute the fundamentals of the game. If we do that, I think that we will bus back to North Central with our heads up high and satisfied with the weekend. If we don't.........well let's just not think that way!

I also want to wish Nick Robinson and Brent Pearson a very happy birthday today and hope they enjoy their day.

Week 9 is coming to a close. As always, finish the workweek out strong and hopefully we can grab some wins this weekend at Franklin.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Great Outdoors

Ah, the great outdoors! It actually feels like baseball season. Although we won't be practicing on Alumni Field at the Zimm, we will have our first outdoor team practice today. It's currently 33 degrees outside but the sun is out and in my head it feels like it's in the 50's. You will actually get to hear the ball pop in someone's glove instead of the echoing off gym walls that make it impossible to hear yourself think.

Field turf is nothing new and many schools (even high schools) have it now. But we are fortunate that we have it at North Central otherwise today's practice would not be possible. We would instead have to try and find a tennis court or completely tear up our field (which Steve our grounds keeper would not appreciate) or find a dry spot in a parking lot far enough away from any cars so our outfielders could take some fly balls , which was my experience in college.

The problem that you face as a coach is trying not to do too much. When you get outside for the first time and your season opens in three days, you tend to want to try to practice everything you've done up to that point. So our goal today is to get as many live reps as possible and call it a day. Wednesday has been our off day during the past five weeks of practice and there are a lot of guys that have class tonight so we have to stay on task.

But the sun is out and we are going outside and that's all that matters.