Luther College Chips

Baseball off to good start in early season

Baseball players practice batting balls while surrounded by a net.

Baseball players practice batting balls while surrounded by a net.

Piper Wood (‘20) | Chips

Piper Wood (‘20) | Chips

Baseball players practice batting balls while surrounded by a net.

Piper Wood, Staff Writer

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Following two winning games against Carleton College in their season-opening series and a win against Gustavus Adolphus College last weekend, the Men’s Baseball Team is looking strong heading into their conference season.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing everybody find their role and figure out how they can help our team,” Head Coach Bryan Nikkel said.

In their non-conference season opener, Luther Men’s Baseball won their two games against Carleton, winning 7-0 and 18-0 in a late-night game in the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. This past weekend, Luther played two games against Gustavus Adolphus College, winning one game 5-4. Their success early in the season has Nikkel eager to see where the conference season takes them.

“We seem to be a tough, gritty group, and that’s really fun to coach,” Nikkel said. “They are really good teammates,”

Approaching his fourth season as the Head Baseball Coach at Luther, Nikkel is excited to see how the 43 players find their place on the field before their conference season.

“We have a group of guys that really like to work hard, they are really fun to be around and they bring a lot of energy [to practice],” Nikkel said.

Following the graduation of last year’s large senior class, the 2018 Men’s Baseball Team is a younger team overall. This allows players to take on new leadership roles on the field, but also poses the challenges of finding the right place on the team for each new player. With only one senior pitcher on the team this year, pitcher Nate Loch (‘21) is looking forward to working with his teammates to fill the leadership roles from last year.

“We don’t have many [team members] to look up to age-and experience-wise, but I know we will all band together and help each other out,” Loch  said.

While the team’s youth brings challenges, they are optimistic about the upcoming season and the younger team dynamic. Derek McCready (‘20) sees the close-knit team dynamic as an advantage in practice and on the field.

“We had a group of seniors that were good players and good leaders, but there are players that are more than willing to step into those roles now,” McCready said. “Everything you go through, someone else is doing the same thing. Whether it be a tough practice or tough game, everybody is together. You’re not afraid to fail because you know that you have done everything to prepare for [the game] and your teammates know that as well.”

McCready was named the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) Athlete of the Week, and is excited about the spring season.

“It’s always good to start the season with a couple wins,” McCready said. “It’s nice to see the pieces come together in our first couple of games.” 

The IIAC honors one male and one female athlete each week, recognizing the best performer in the Iowa athletic conference. Nikkel is proud of McCready’s performance.

“He was more than deserving of that award, he’s worked really hard for the success he’s had early this season,” Nikkel said.

Next weekend Luther will face Northland College and St. Olaf College in Independence, Iowa. The team will open their conference season on March 23 with a home game against Buena Vista University.

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