By Tava Hoag
The weather has been playing tricks on New Englanders lately. One minute it’s sunny and 66 and then next it’s snowing…again. This has made the month of March pretty frustrating and I’m sure some people are wondering if we will even see green grass by May. While many of us are sick of winter and all the snow it has dumped on us, there’s one group at Fitchburg State that is probably the most frustrated with Mother Nature– the men’s Baseball team.
The season started over spring break when the team went down to Florida to play their first games. According to the 2015 schedule the team is supposed to play 39 games this season, and as of today they have played 10– 9 of which were played over spring break in Florida.
The harsh winter, and vast amounts of snow still on the ground has led to the postponement of many games. For example, this past Wednesday’s game against Curry at Auburn high school was changed. Instead the Fitchburg Falcons played against Wentworth at Auburn. Why are they playing at Auburn and not their home field? Well, again it’s because of the weather and conditions of the baseball field, there’s still snow on the ground. Fitchburg State’s baseball field is unplayable for the time being, as well as many other teams’ fields. The other issues with postponement come from the vast amounts of booking being done at offsite fields. So many school teams can’t yet use their home fields and they must request time at another field, making availability very limited.
Kyle Cutler, Sophomore Criminal Justice major and one of the pitchers for the team says, “It’s been a tough season with all of the schedule changes, right now we are taking it one day at a time. It’s hard to find field availability when so many places are already booked and home fields aren’t clear enough to play on.”
Currently, the only game they played here in Massachusetts was done at the New England Baseball Complex in Northborough, MA against WPI. On the turf field next to the Falcons, Boston College’s baseball team played North Carolina State. It’s clear that FSU isn’t the only baseball team battling with the weather and playing conditions on home fields.
Time isn’t stopping to accommodate their many postponements either, so the team has to play more often in order to make up for it. Currently, they have two doubleheaders this week. The first one is Friday against Mass Maritime in Buzzard’s Bay, the second is Saturday against Framingham in Watertown. This week they are playing 6 games in 4 days to catch up to where they need to be at this point.
The players are obviously frustrated with the situation because they are itching to play this season. They have worked hard and want to prove themselves on the field. According to Cutler, “Who wouldn’t get a little frustrated? I know I am, but at the same time it’s Massachusetts, so you can’t control the weather and it’s going to happen one way or the other. I would say that this is the perfect example of the challenges of playing baseball in Massachusetts.”
Cutler says, the coaching staff has been really great keeping the team motivated by saying, “Everybody is going through the same thing, so basically this gives us more time to practice and get better. That way when the day comes when we can play we’ll be ready.”
On a side note, the Men’s baseball team at FSU has an entirely new coaching staff this season. Their head coach, Ryan Parker is a 2001 graduate from Wheaton College with a degree in Sociology. He also received a Masters of Education and Student Affairs Counseling from Bridgewater State University in 2008. He played baseball for the Wheaton Lyons all 4 years of undergrad and has experience coaching with the Cape Cod Baseball League. He has also served the past 8 seasons as the pitching coach for Wheaton College, his alma mater. Outside of coaching baseball Ryan is the Founder, President, and Director of Baseball Operation at the Circle Change Foundation in Boston. This organization provides, advising and support for ballplayers throughout the northeast. Needless to say, his accomplishments and experience have made him a huge asset to the team.
Kyle has not had the chance to pitch a game since Florida, over spring break. This trip is where, “all of the Division III teams, especially the ones in our conference go over spring break and we had a very tough schedule while there.” Says Cutler. So while many think that the team was lucky to get away from the cold and snow here, they were down in sunny Florida working extremely hard to prepare for the season. The men were often getting up at 6 in the morning and playing games all day long. It’s a true testament to the dedication of this team.
When asked what the hardest part of this situation is Cutler said, “I think the hard part was going from playing every day in Florida to putting everything on hold up here.” The boys are obviously all ready to play their hardest but Mother Nature has had different plans for them. As of now they are taking it day by day and doing whatever they can to schedule places to play. Currently their record is 6-5, but will change with the games coming this weekend. The team is practicing in the gym, and had one day last week where they practiced on the turf football field. Cutler says, “We definitely feel ready because we do game situations in practice. The pitchers throw live to our hitters, we keep it as game-like as we possibly can”.
Hopefully things get easier soon for the Fitchburg State Falcons in terms of spring sports. Until then, keep working hard boys!