Baseball struggles as season opens

By Brad Barber

RBI: Jordan Klopfenstein winds up as the ball approaches the plate. (Huntingtonian archive photo)

The Forester baseball team has struggled in the first month of the season, dropping their first seven games. The team has been plagued by inconsistent opportunities to play due to weather and lack of an early March spring break.

The Foresters have played seven games, but have only played over two separate weekends. They kicked off their season with a three-game trip to Saint Catharine, Ky.,  Feb. 22 and 23. They had a match up with Indiana University Southeast scheduled for the weekend of March 2, but weather postponed it after rescheduling for March 6.

The inability to play everyday, or close to it, has affected the team. Coach Mike Frame said that the lack of outside experience so far this season has been the biggest hurdle for the team.

“It is a major reason for our inconsistency,” Frame said. “We are playing teams that have played several games and have been outside.”

Senior Adam Christner agreed with Frame. Christner said that not being able to play on a consistent basis makes it more difficult for the players when they get on the field for actual games.

“For infielders, they need to get consistent ground balls off a live hitter,” Christner said, “and outfielders need to see the balls coming off the bat on a more regular basis.”

The cold Indiana weather forces the Foresters to go south for games, but stay indoors when practicing. Christner said that practicing indoors does not simulate the game time situations that they face outdoors on the field, making it difficult to perform well when they do play games.

“Hitting outside and hitting inside has big differences, even in batting practice,” he said. “The background is different. Also being able to see the trajectory of the ball when hitting really helps the hitter out.”

Frame said that on the trips they play northern teams also so that they are not just playing the southern host team.

“When we take a trip we play teams from the north that are in the same position we are in,” he said.

However most northern teams have the ability to play multiple games during their spring break, Frame said. Because of the setup of the academic schedule this year, the Foresters do not have that ability because their spring break is during the Crossroads League season. The Foresters lose the opportunity to play consistently over a week-long period at a warm-climate host school.

The inconsistent play has affected the offense. The Foresters have a team batting average of .253, which is in the bottom fourth of all NAIA teams. The team is averaging 3.29 runs per game, but have scored more than three only once.

“The reason the offense has struggled is the same reason we have struggled as a team,” Frame said. “We need to get outside and practice on a field.”

Conference play is around the corner for the Foresters. They kick off their home schedule and Crossroads play on March 19, against the University of Saint Francis, at 4:30 p.m.

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