Christian Zylstra- Staff Writer
The offseason is no longer truly “off” in today’s world of sports. For Dordt College baseball, that “offseason” is starting to pick up.
With a spring baseball regular season ahead, the fall practice schedule is crucial for integrating new freshmen into the squad. This year, such a task is more important than ever.
“In the fall, we focus on skill/talent evaluation so we can decide on the depth chart for both JV and varsity rosters going into the offseason [winter],” said Dordt baseball coach Jeff Schouten. “There is strong competition at many spots on the field this fall since there are 22 new players in the program.”
Mix 22 new players in the Dordt baseball program with what is arguably the most talented senior class Dordt baseball has ever had, and hopefully you have a GPAC playoff contender.
But before Dordt can even get to that point, it has a long fall season of scrimmages and practices ahead.
Practices started almost immediately after the players were back on campus for the year. In a region with volatile weather, taking advantage of practicing outdoors is critical. It is also a chance for field renovations, including the addition of a new mound at Open Space Park.
“The mound is the finishing touch that our field needed; it is a big upgrade for our program,” Schouten said.
While the addition of a new mound is nice, it does make things more difficult for the position players who want to face live pitching, which serves as just another reason why Dordt’s annual fall scrimmages against Northwestern College are pivotal.
“We don’t get a lot of in-practice reps with pitchers throwing live, so the scrimmages against Northwestern are really important, not only from an evaluation standpoint, but also from a standpoint of playing against other competition and seeing what Northwestern is bringing in for the year recruiting-wise so we can compare ourselves and contrast,” said junior catcher Josh Van Eps.
On Sept. 8, Dordt played a 14-inning scrimmage at Northwestern, showcasing a bevy of new, young talent on the roster. 11 different pitchers and 16 different position players got on the field and saw live game action.
One event ahead for Dordt baseball is another scrimmage – this one in Sioux Center, IA, at Open Space Park, on Sept. 22.
“Some of the guys that didn’t play this week will play next week [Sept. 22],” said senior shortstop Cam Gingerich. “Obviously, some guys will play both, and we’ll just see how it goes. We’ll hopefully get a better idea of our depth chart and figure out who’s who.”
All these practices and scrimmages are just crucial steps along the way for Dordt baseball to hopefully make its first-ever GPAC tournament.