UNK students were greeted by a large snowstorm upon their return to campus for the spring semester. Students enjoyed two extra days of winter break as the university declared two consecutive snow days. However, the snow has presented a challenge for the UNK baseball team.
With their first game of the season set for Feb. 19 in Emporia, Kan., the Lopers must work indoors and do their best to prepare for in-state rival Wayne State. The series against Wayne State was originally scheduled to be played at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, until a snowstorm of more than 20 inches caused the inflatable roof to collapse on Dec. 12.
“It’s disappointing that we won’t be playing in the Metrodome this year. It’s so rare to get the chance to play on a big league field. It’s unfortunate what happened, but we have to focus on the opponent and not where we play,” said senior shortstop Brandon Buchanan.
With their field covered in snow, the team has had to make do with the available indoor facilities. Thanks to their indoor facility at their field, the team is able to hit, throw bullpens and lift. But in order to play catch and work on defense, the team must use Cushing Coliseum and the Health and Sports Center.
“We realize how lucky we are to have the facilities that we have in times like these,” said senior third baseman Luke Valerius. “Being able to take ground balls in Cushing is important because it helps us get reps before that first game.”
In order for the practice to work, the team splits up into three groups: travel roster players, freshmen and pitchers. For instance, the travel roster players begin the practice with hitting while the freshmen lift. After this, they drive to the Health and Sports Center for their defensive work, followed by returning to their facility to switch the hitting and lifting. The only thing the team cannot do in their indoor work is put together a full defense, as there is not enough space to put the outfielders and infielders together.
“Maybe if we get a break in weather and get the right conditions to clear off the football field, we can get some work done outside, but we have to prepare the best we can with what we have right now,” Buchanan said. With the freezing temperatures and more snow likely to come, chances are the team will be practicing indoors for much of the early season.