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Harvey Wilhelm
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Baseball and softball kick off season in Florida

Catchers Matt Hammond ’17 (left) and Sam Galanek ’18 (right) are ready to take on the Midwest Conference this season. Photo by Sarah Ruiz

Candace Mettle

Catchers Matt Hammond ’17 (left) and Sam Galanek ’18 (right) are ready to take on the Midwest Conference this season. Photo by Sarah Ruiz
Catchers Matt Hammond ’17 (left) and Sam Galanek ’18 (right) are ready to take on the Midwest Conference this season.
Photo by Sarah Ruiz

As per tradition, Grinnell’s baseball and softball teams spent the first week of spring break — the start of the season — at hot locations. Aside from preparing for field-play, the teams used these trips to strengthen their relationships among one another.

Ben Binversie ’17, a relief pitcher for the baseball team, spoke highly of the team’s accomplishments in Auburndale, Fla.

“We definitely figured out that our team has lots of depth, and when various players are hurt or tired from playing a lot of games or not performing well for some reason, we found out that there’s another guy who’s willing to step in and fill that role, more than capably,” Binversie said.

Baseball’s record on the trip was 8-2 and the team beat St. Norbert twice, although the opponent is a consistently tough challenger.

“[Our wins] bode well for the rest of the season,” Binversie said. “The expectation we have now set for ourselves is that we’re going to win the Midwest Conference tournament.”

The seniors, according to Binversie, have substantially led the team.

“We have grown to really expect [highly of] a lot of the seniors and they’re not failing to meet those expectations that we — and [they] — hold for themselves. They are definitely a big part of the success that we are having this year,” Binversie said.

Binversie says that although playing at least one game a day in humid, hot weather was physically taxing, the team had opportunities for relaxation, spending time with family if they were there and team bonding.

“Taking a 24-hour bus ride really helps with [team bonding]. You get to know your teammates as you’re grappling for positions on the bus floor,” Binversie said.

Softball also had a successful spring break tournament in Claremont, Fla. Unlike baseball, the softball team played against schools from outside the Conference, but this did not lessen the intensity nor the significance of the wins. In fact, playing against new teams gave a better gauge for testing their skills.

“We have a good chance of being competitive with a lot of the top teams in the Conference, which we probably couldn’t have said last year,” said Kayla Morrissey ’18.

Morrissey also added that this year’s team is much bigger than last year’s, which made the trip even more exciting.

“I think it was very important for everyone to give their best,” Morrissey said. “You can’t take any other team for granted just because it doesn’t count for Conference,”

Morrissey’s favorite part of the tournament was their 9-2 win over Elmhurst College.

“On the first day, we flew out at 10-11 a.m., but did not get into bed until 3 a.m. Then we had to wake up at 6 a.m. and get down the field at 7:30 a.m. for warm-ups, for our game at 9 a.m. We absolutely destroyed [Elmhurst]. Everyone was really pumped up after that game because even though we came off this flight and had no sleep, we can still win a game,” Morrissey said.

On and off the field, the women used the trip as an opportunity to bond with each other.

“We’re a loud team so we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well and we spend a lot of time with each other here [in Grinnell], but there’s something about being together on a field, trying to defeat another group of people with the same purpose. There’s something special about that particular experience and it definitely helps you bond with your friends even more,” Morrissey said.

On top of a great series of wins, camaraderie and excitement for a future without the current seniors and with new players, Grinnell baseball and softball are confident in their prospects for 2016.

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