Nathan McCurdy 25 hits the ball while at bat against Monmouth College on March 29. Grinnell won the game 13-6 and the three-game series against Monmouth College 2-1.
Nathan McCurdy 25 hits the ball while at bat against Monmouth College on March 29. Grinnell won the game 13-6 and the three-game series against Monmouth College 2-1.
Gabriela Roznawska

Adverse weather throws curveball at Grinnell baseball’s MWC title bid

With a current overall record of 9-10 and a fourth place standing in the Midwest Conference, the Grinnell College Baseball Team has pushed through the season despite the consequences of fluctuating Midwest weather. 

“We’ve been working really hard. Not just in the recent past, but also from the minute we stepped on campus,” said Ian Feld `25, pitcher. Though Feld said their record does not display dominance, he thinks they’ve improved since last year.

lan Feld 25 pitching against Monmouth College on March 29. (Gabriela Roznawska)

Ethan Crawford `25, catcher, echoed Feld, adding that his growth throughout his past two years on the team has allowed him to cut down on strikeouts. “Now I’m ready [to improve my] average and power and I think that’ll be awesome because our lineup is absolutely replacing Luke Porter `23, who hit really well in terms of home runs and average,” he said, referring to different methods of hitting the ball. “It’s good to see that we’re replacing that missing gap.”

As the team works on leveraging their developed skills, they said that in their previous games –– especially during their spring break in Memphis, Tennessee –– have boosted their confidence. Mac McCain `25, infielder, said that though these games started off with uncertainty due to facing two tougher opponents, they ended up with two close wins. 

“It was kind of a turning point for us,” he said.

While several team members said they look forward to playing more conference games, Feld said that their postponement due to current weather conditions has revealed challenges with scheduling. He said that when they cancel and rearrange game times, their lack of downtime and extra weekends to play makes it difficult. As a result, Feld said they end up cramming multiple games into a short amount of time. 

Tim Hollibaugh, head baseball coach, said he has supported the team by dealing with the effects of the constantly changing weather. “I spent more time on phones trying to rearrange game schedules than I have at practice,” he said. 

“You know, it comes with the territory. I hope the team understands that they don’t control it, and I’m trying to manage the information and what they need to know so it takes some stress off their play,” he added. 

Josh Fournier `24 dives for a base during the March 30 game against Monmouth College. (Gabriela Roznawska)

According to Feld, though the team has struggled with constant rescheduling due to delays, he said he believes everyone has stepped up and taken on a larger share of team responsibilities.

Crawford provided one example, shouting out Connor Goodson `26 and how the pitcher-turned-first-baseman’s adaptability has successfully helped the team. 

Crawford added that, “He’s [Goodson] an amazing pitcher, but unfortunately had an arm injury. To see him be able to play first base and already hit four home runs this season, it’s awesome to see guys stepping up in different roles.”

Hollibaugh agreed with this, expressing that as players fill their roles, he’s able to rotate the lineup to “give guys some good, positive experience,” which plays into their overall team chemistry. 

“We’ve got a couple of fifth year guys, and that’s not a normal thing here,” Hollibaugh said. “They’ve done a great job of adding to leadership and that experience, which finally in the last three years, we haven’t had a lot of an older team. Having older players to be able to relate to the younger guys is really helpful.”

Feld said that apart from playing on the field, his role as an upperclassmen is to set a good example. 

“We do have some guys that are younger and just need to adapt to a new circumstance of playing sports in college,” he said. “Showing up every day with good intentions … making sure we’re engaged and supportive … it’s definitely something that I want to continue to hold myself to.”

Jackson Gutta `27, a first year pitcher, said that this awareness from the upperclassmen has enhanced his experience both on and off the field. 

“It has been amazing,” said Gutta. “My favorite part about baseball has been the guys. Just hanging out with them and them accepting me into their culture and their team.”

Crawford said that the team’s progressing dynamic and individual skill components has made him excited to play through the rest of the conference series and see how it turns out.

“We want to win our conference tournament,” said Feld. “It’s like the primary goal.”

“One of the things that we really stress this year, like in a more focused sense, is that we’re trying to be more aggressive as a team,” he added. “Aggressiveness with stealing bases, aggressiveness with going up to the plate, ready to hit on the mound, attacking hitters. I think that’s something we’re still figuring out how to incorporate into our team, but it’s something that we’re gonna keep doing.”

Hollibaugh said that although the team is still learning to have consistent strike throwers and offensive play, he’s confident in their potential.

“If we’re able to play to our identity, play to our abilities, I mean, I feel like we could be conference champions. It’s awfully difficult to win a championship, but we have that talent. It’s just learning to manage themselves and play within their abilities.”

Michael Flaherty ’24 slides to safety against Monmouth College on March 30. (Gabriela Roznawska)
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