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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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Baseball sweeps conference, championships ahead

The Grinnell baseball team has finished off the season with a 21-14 record, successfully sweeping conference play.  But now their real test begins. At 9 p.m. on Friday the Pioneers face Ripon and look to take their first step towards winning the title of Division 3 Midwest Champions.

Despite Grinnell’s well-stated objective, they know they are not the only team going into the tournament looking “too hot to handle.”

“I know that the teams from the North are very talented but just from the schedule we had in Florida, and the non-conference teams we played, gave us a lot of confidence and really prepared us,” said center fielder Matt Skelly ’12.

Although the team will be hosting, they will still try to take advantage of the underdog role.

“I guess North thinks of the South as a weaker division because they always take the title, but we’re excited to show them that the South is much more than that,” said second baseman Chad Takabuki ’10.

An enthusiastic outlook is nothing new for the squad, as they’ve been looking to win conference from the first day of league play. This was not the case for the team last season though, as they simply were content on making it into conference, explained third baseman Brian Sollo ’10.

“Coming into the season we had two goals to host conference, win the South Division and the second to win conference and play well in regional,” Takabuki said. “Now that we’ve completed our first goal we are just excited about trying to complete the second goal.”

With these goals in mind, Grinnell knows that they have to continue playing their game, and take it inning by inning. 

“In the end, we must continue to play our game which is based on solid pitching, great defense and situational hitting,” said Head Coach Tim Hollibaugh.

Now that Grinnell has completed their first goal, they are ready to suit up and focus on the next, instead of distracting themselves by looking back on their accomplishments from the regular season. 

“It really only matters how we do this weekend, the 12-0 record would just be like a consolation prize, but it really doesn’t matter that much,” said pitcher Andrew Platt ’13.

Looking past the conference tournament this weekend, the team will be primed for another great season in 2011. The Pioneers can look forward to adding a group of stellar ballplayers from around the country. 

“We have addressed the needs of our team at middle infield, pitching and catching,” Hollibaugh said. “It is a solid group of 11 first years at this point that will only help us compete at a higher level.” 

Still, the team will feel somewhat depleted, as this excellent class of 2010 graduates and they know it will be tough to replace their leadership and skill.

That being said, the team has been able to see how reliable their backups can be, as they have stepped forward when called upon with rousing success. 

“This year we had such great depth whenever someone went down we had another player come up,” Sollo said.

Despite this confidence in their future, the team that remains will still need to do some soul searching, as a new team always will.

“At the end of every year you have to look at what you did well, what you didn’t do well and the players you have returning,” Hollibaugh said.  “From there, it is on us as coaches to develop a plan to improve the players we have returning.”

The graduating class will also have to do some soul searching as they say goodbye to what was such an important part of their life for four years. 

“I’ll definitely miss the days that the wind is blowing to left field, because it was always fun to hit homeruns on our small field,” Sollo said.

The bottom line is that all these inward reflections can take place after they finish off this season. For right now, the Pioneers need to focus on playing by their mantra, which is to always be in the moment and soak in everything about it. 

With Grinnell playing their best baseball in years, they need to carry their swagger through this weekend and make this a season that will be discussed for years to come.

“Last year we were having just as much fun, but this year we have a little more of a swagger to us because the senior class has been playing really well and it’s been rubbing off on all of us, hopefully we can put it all together and surprise the North,” Skelly said.

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