Club baseball team loses first two games to Madison
Dedication and hard work are two of the components that make the club baseball team so special. The team awoke early Saturday morning to pack into cars and travel to Madison, where it played two seven-inning games in a doubleheader against the club team from Madison.
While the Madison team spent spring break training in Florida, this was the first time Eau Claire had stepped foot on an actual field – a result of unpredictable spring weather.
“The weather has been so strange this spring, making it hard for us to get any fielding practice,” junior center fielder Curt Hartfiel said. “Playing on a diamond is much different than just taking ground balls in a gym.”
The team was practicing at 6 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for about two months, mainly taking batting practice in the cages at McPhee. The players have also been working on conditioning and game situations to help prepare for the season.
Eau Claire also has faced many conflicts already this season that have upset the team.
Since losing its coach who, according to senior captain Pete Snyder was asked to leave the team because he wasn’t associated with the university, the captains of the team have taken on full responsibility. Snyder said they have been busy with the tasks of scheduling games and hiring umpires.
The club team had difficulty practicing after it’s indoor practice mound was stolen. However, the Eau Claire isn’t letting these problems slow them down.
“We have been blessed with the excellent facilities here at Carson Park,” Snyder said. “Not one of us will stop at anything. Everyone works together and we make this happen -we do it for the fans.”
The season was supposed to kick off April 2 with the Blue and Gold game, but due to snow on the field, it was canceled. A doubleheader at Winona State (Minn.) scheduled for April 4 was canceled as well.
This weekend was the first opportunity the team had to really show what they are made of. Saturday the team took the field at Warner Park in Madison.
Junior Zach Najacht was the starting pitcher for Eau Claire in the first game, which Madison won 2-1. Hartfiel, the lead-off batter for Eau Claire, scored the team’s only run of the first game. Junior Chip Marty had the only RBI of the game, driving in Hartfiel in the first inning.
Karpe took the mound in the second game, which Eau Claire lost 10-3.
“Although we lost both games, sometimes the score at the end doesn’t necessarily reflect the way we played,” Karpe said. “It was a tough matchup and we just didn’t come out on top.”
The rest of the team agrees that the pitching was good considering the amount of practice they’ve had, even without a practice mound.
“Our pitchers did well for being on the mound for the first time all year,” Hartfiel said. “They did a heck of a job giving us a chance to win both games.”
After the games against Madison, the team was scheduled to play DePaul (Ill.) at Fort Atkinson the next day, but the game was canceled due to rain, and the team’s weekend was cut short.
With many returning starters, the team has the experience and knowledge to get the job done. Coming off a third place finish in the conference tournament last year, Eau Claire hopes to improve in this year’s conference tournament as well as regular season play.
The team’s first home game is at 7 p.m. today at Carson Park against Winona State.