Snowy weather has been an unavoidable reality for MIAC Baseball this spring, but according to recent forecasts, it appears that the national pasttime will resume uninterrupted in Collegeville for the rest of the season.
But with clear weather now on the horizon, SJU players and coaches can expect a much busier game schedule.
The Johnnies found themselves back on the diamond Wednesday against St. Mary’s in what was the team’s first conference fixture in 17 days.
Getting back on the field is a positive for the club. However, SJU Baseball is now faced with a monumental task. With over two weeks now removed from the conference schedule, the Johnnies will play 18 games in just 14 days, a stretch which began with the St. Mary’s doubleheader on Wednesday.
According to MIAC representatives, this spring has been unprecedented.
“We have never seen anything like this,” MIAC Executive Director Dan McKane said. “This has been one tough spring, and I feel really bad for our coaches, who work so hard to put their teams together. And I feel even worse for our student-athletes, who prepare year round to be able to compete and showcase their talents. Unfortunately, with this Minnesota weather, it just hasn’t happened yet.”
Despite the conference’s crunched schedule, no plans have been made to cancel the MIAC postseason tournament, which as of now will be conducted just as it always has been.
Likewise, no plans have been made by the conference to cancel any games outright.
As fixtures were being postponed in early April, a proposition was sent out to the MIAC baseball coaches regarding the potential cancellation of conference games. Their response was unanimous: let’s play them all.
“We have a strong tradition of playing our entire conference season,” McKane said. “There are other conferences, such as the Big Ten, where you don’t make up your games. It’s different here in the MIAC, and all the coaches seemed very adamant that they wanted to get in all their games.”
While this seems an admirable goal, this spring’s weather has made it a difficult one to fulfill.
Jerry Haugen has been SJU’s skipper for 36 years, and he says that he’s never experienced this sort of weather so late in the season.
“We’ve had instances where we get bouts of cold and even some late snow,” Haugen said, “but in those cases, the snow melts in a day or two, and we’re back on the field. I haven’t seen a spring like this before.”
Though this season has been unlike any other in the past, the Johnnies will need to buckle down if they hope to make a repeat performance at the NCAA tournament. Their situation is not ideal, but they, like all MIAC teams, are in a position where they need to play the hand they are dealt.
The adjusted schedule is particularly troubling for St. John’s.
As of now, the team’s final regular-season doubleheader is slated for May 7 against Carleton. Unfortunately for the Johnnies, finals being on May 8.
That being said, players understand that it is their duty to maintain a good balance between athletics and academics, despite their hectic upcoming schedule.
“Jerry’s told us that we need to stay ahead with our schoolwork and make sure that we’re going to class,” junior Luke Larson said. “We’re student-athletes, so we know academics always come first. If we take care of our stuff off the field, we’ll be able to do the same on the field.”
St. John’s will take on Hamline next at 1 p.m. Saturday in St. Paul. It will be the first of four consecutive road doubleheaders that the team will play over a six-day span.