There’s no place like home, QU Baseball embraces outdoor practice time
By Jay Hammel
A different kind of white ball was being tossed around QU Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
Snowballs took the place of pearly white baseballs as the Quincy University athletes took time outside of practice for some traditional winter fun, even as the Hawks season opener looms 10 days away.
The Hawks were able to appreciate the great outdoors and “spring like” conditions of the 50 degree sunshine that rayed onto the QU baseball stadium turf.
Due to the frigid winter temperatures and sufficient snowfall accumulated from last week’s blizzard, coaches and players have been working around class schedules to shovel the snow off of their playing surface.
Having the ability to get outside Tuesday afternoon provided the team a view they haven’t seen in three months.
“It’s never a bad feeling when you are practicing outside on your home field,” infielding coach Casey Demko said. “Visually and timing wise it’s a big difference, we are able to see 10-15 more feet of a ground ball than we would inside.”
The inside facility consists of an approximately 90 feet by 40 feet area of turf within a hanging net where players are able to train.
For an outfielder, little things like relay drills and live ball reads makes it difficult for them to adapt.
“It felt great to be outside knowing how little we’ve been able to get outside,” junior center fielder, Brock Boynton said. “We have to make the most of every opportunity we get to be outside.”
On the pitching side of things, throwing 30 yards is no issue, but in order to condition the arm into season shape, players must throw it above their partner’s head into the net to feel a sense of further distance.
“It felt really good to be able to long toss and stretch my arm out,” starting right-hand hurler Spencer Walker said. “The weather wasn’t too cold so it definitely gets me excited for the spring season.”
Practicing indoors does have its benefits as it allows the players to get technical and break down each portion of the body.
However, in the Midwest, the Hawks lack the luxury of being outside year round.
“The biggest obstacle we face is replicating a game environment,” Demko said.
The closest thing to a game-like atmosphere they experience is the competitively stimulated games that take place each week with a pitcher throwing the standard distance, 60 feet 6 inches, to a batter in the box, but no fielders.
QU’s first opponent will have eight games under its belt, in which five of those games will have been played in the warmer states of Oklahoma and Florida.
The Hawks will take a road trip to Joplin, Mo., and will match up against Missouri Southern on February 18 for the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association and Great Lakes Valley Conference crossover.
“I mean at the end of the day, we can only control what we can control,” Boynton stated. “I know this team will be just fine come February 18th at 1 o’clock.”