Slow to start, baseball wins two at home
Augustana baseball is off to a 4-7 start. Although not an ideal beginning, senior right fielder Patrick O’Donnell believes the team will figure it out.
“It’s a little up and down,” O’Donnell said. “Right now, it’s just not clicking on all cylinders. Once we get that going, I don’t think we should have a problem winning games.”
The winter storm that came through Sioux Falls during the end of February setback the team’s practice schedule. It forced them inside to the batting cages. Head coach Tim Huber said he doesn’t like his players in the cages.
“Baseball’s a sport where you need space,” Huber said. “Once you’re outside, you get a lot more accomplished than inside.”
Huber said the change in depth perception while practicing inside can throw an athlete off.
While inside, Huber focuses on offensive improvements. Huber wants players to be “more consistent, especially offensively” by the time the team meets Truman for four this weekend.
Before the season, the NSIC coaches picked the Vikings to finish fourth in the conference.
In order to play in the conference tournament, the team will have to finish in the top eight.
O’Donnell said he’s trying not to feel the pressure of the rough start.
“I don’t think there is any doubt we should be a top team in the nation,” O’Donnell said. “Obviously that’s far away, and we just have to take it one game at a time.”
Huber is confident in his team’s ability to make it to the conference tournament. In the past four seasons, Augustana finished runner-up twice and in third twice.
“We’ve been a consistent program,” Huber said.
O’Donnell believes the combination of rigorous practices and dedication will get this year’s team to the conference tourney.
“We’re a bunch of hardworking guys who go out there every day and try to get better,” O’Donnell said.
Junior catcher Ryan Menssen believes that a good portion of playing is mental rather than physical.
The team had its first home series March 4 and 5. It went 2-1 against Newman University. The teams split doubleheader Saturday’s, Newman winning the first game of the series 7-3 and Augustana winning the second 9-6. The teams’ third game was won by a walk-off, sealing the Viking’s victory at 6-5.
NSIC play commences March 18 at home against Bemidji State.