Augie students flock to the Birdcage to start 2018-19 school year



Augustana took center field at a game Wednesday night between the Sioux Falls Canaries and the Gary SouthShore RailCats held at the Sioux Falls Birdcage.

Augustana President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin threw the game’s ceremonial opening pitch. In fact, she had something to do with the planning process.

“My husband knows the folks here at the Canaries pretty well, because we’ve been season ticket holders here, and the Canaries organization wanted to do something to honor our baseball team,” said Sandlin. “Max explained that it was the summer, so if they wanted to do something, they should do it when all of the students return. And that’s when all of the planning started.”

For Herseth Sandlin, the Canaries game was the best way to honor both the baseball team and the spirit of Augustana.

“We thought it would be great to not only to honor this national championship-winning baseball team but to celebrate community and being in Sioux Falls for 100 years,” she said.

Augustana’s 2018 Division II College World Series Champion Baseball team made an appearance before the start of the game, led by head coach Tim Huber.

According to junior baseball player Taten Lyngstad, the baseball team worked hard for their win, not only during the championship game but in the weeks leading up to it. Lyngstad didn’t make the roster, but he remembers how much effort was put in during practices.

The guys that put the work in, they worked hard and they definitely earned what they did,” said Lyngstad. “School ended, and they played for two weeks after that, so when you look at it that way, that is something to appreciate.”

While Augustana’s athletic abilities were on display, so too were the university’s musical talents.

The Augustana Choir opened the game by singing the national anthem, and Russell Svenningsen took to the microphone after the seventh inning to sing a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in both Norwegian and English.

Augustana alumni Mel Antonen and Laurel Preib also made an appearance. Antonen currently works as an analyst for Major League Baseball Network Radio at Sirius XM and MASN-TV, the network that covers the Orioles and the Washington Nationals. Preib serves as the Major League Baseball vice president for special projects and scorekeeping.

“Sioux Falls is home, Augustana is home and when I got invited to come back, it was a no-brainer to say ‘yes,’” said Antonen. “I didn’t care, I took a couple of days off of work, and it’s all been so invigorating and refreshing.”

Four scholarships were given away via a drawing at the event. One $500 award was given to Mach Mach by the Canaries organization, and Allie Merkel, Harrison Stanek, and Jaden Payne each received a $1,000 dollar scholarship from Augustana. Merkel is currently a senior at Augustana, while Mach, Stanek and Payne have yet to graduate high school.

The game ended with a 6-3 RailCats win over the Canaries. With just a few games left to play, the Canaries’ season is closing, but the Augustana school year is just beginning.

View the photo gallery from the game below.

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