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Posted by Guest (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 5/1/2013 12:01:58 PM

By Brian Jerzak
John’s Journal correspondent

To say the spring sports season has gotten off to a rocky start would be a huge understatement. Teams have been able to start playing outside and actually playing games in just the last week or two. How teams and players have been able to adjust to this crazy start to the season will be key to team and individual success. Some of the state’s elite softball and baseball seniors shared their thoughts on how they have been able to deal with a nearly unprecedented start to the spring season.

Ryan Boldt, who is committed to playing baseball for Nebraska next season, and his Red Wing teammates have been practicing in the Wingers’ hockey arena. Last year they made it to the state tournament and are looking for big things again in Boldt’s senior season.

“I hit on the weekends up at the arena and stuff,” said Boldt. “I just take as many swings as I can and play a lot of long toss.”

Forest Lake’s Dana Morgan, who will be playing softball for Minnesota State Mankato next season, is focused on leading her team to a state championship.

“I just try to find the positive in it and try to help my team,” she said. “I really work on my hitting since you don’t have to be outside to do that. I have really focused on my skills on both offense and defense.”

Most teams try a number of things to keep the indoor practices fresh and prevent what Visitation softball star Anne Debertin says is one of the biggest drawbacks.

“It is hard to focus and get better in a gym,” she said. “We can’t take outfield in a gym. It is hard to stay focused when you are inside and it is hot and you’ve got balls flying everywhere.”

Coaches have used things like dodge ball and team building contests to try to break up the boredom of indoor practices. Being stuck in a gym and then starting to play outside is a big adjustment.

“It is going to be different getting acclimated to the speed again,” said Boldt, who could skip college and sign a professional contract after this year's draft. “Being able to see the ball coming at you off the bat and being able to make a play is the biggest key.”

Morgan said, “The biggest adjustment is going to be getting a ground ball. When you have to play with softies and have to play in the gym; you get different hops in the gym than on a regular field.”

Debertin said, “The hardest thing is going to be hitting off a live pitcher. I have only been able to hit off of a machine and a tee so coming in it is going to be right away live pitching, so that will be a little bit of an adjustment at the beginning.”

Morgan has seen some positives coming out of the restricted practices.

“We do situations over and over again since we haven’t been able to get outside – a lot of basic things – it has kind of been an advantage because we have been getting those plays down. It is not what we would have hoped for, but in a way it has kind of made us better.”

As the season has finally gotten going over the last few days, the players know it is going to be unlike any season they have ever experienced.

“I need to take it pitch by pitch and game by game and try not to look ahead,” Morgan said. “I need to stay focused and concentrate on our main goal, which is winning state.”

“It is going to be hardest on our pitchers, but there is not going to be a lot of time to practice,” said Debertin, a senior catcher. “People are going to have to stay focused and come in every single day ready to play.”

Boldt and Morgan’s college careers could be affected by a senior season that is out of the norm. Boldt, for one, isn’t concerned with the University of Nebraska’s reaction to his lack of a season as a senior. The Cornhuskers coaches know their prized recruit will still come into next season prepared.

“They are just as frustrated as I am,” said the outfielder, “but they know I will come there prepared.”

Morgan knows she just needs to focus on getting better where she can. “I just need to focus on my skills and do what we can do so when we get started I am ready.”



 


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