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ISSUE 118 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/18/2005

Catching rays over break

By Ryan Maus
Sports Editor


Friday, March 18, 2005

For the majority of St. Olaf students, spring break is a time to see family and friends, travel to a warmer climate, or just simply relax. For members of the Ole baseball and softball teams, next week is anything but a vacation: Both squads will travel south to open up their seasons by playing rigorous schedules against some tough competition.

The St. Olaf fastpitch team, led by first-year head coach Ruthie Neuger, will be flying to Anaheim, Calif. early Saturday morning to compete in the Sun West Tournament at Chapman University.

Despite the daunting schedule (the team will play eight games in a span of just five days), Neuger is confident that the trip will be a success.

“We’re really excited about the trip, and I believe we’ll have a good tournament,” the 1980 St. Olaf graduate said. “We’re starting to click as a unit and I’m very optimistic about our season.”

The Oles will open against Eastern Oregon College, a perennial powerhouse in the highly competitive Cascade conference, on March 20. Later that same day, the Oles will match up with All-American pitcher Laura Heise of St. Scholastica (Duluth, Minn.), who led her team to a 40-8 overall record last season.

The team will be flying back home next Friday and open their home season March 30 against Martin Luther College.

The St. Olaf baseball team, fresh off yet another winning season, will be venturing outside the norm for their spring trip this year. Instead of driving through Illinois, Missouri and Texas (as the team has done in recent years) head coach Matt McDonald has instead decided to fly his team to the sunny Fort Myers region of south Florida.

“We decided to make the switch to Florida for a number of reasons,” McDonald said. “The long drive to Texas was really a grind physically, and it affected our play. This year we’ll have a chance to play more Division III teams, and some very good ones at that.”

The Oles will be flying into Tampa Sunday evening and play their first two games Monday afternoon against the University of Wisconsin-Steven’s Point, one of the top Division III programs in the state. The team will play eight more games over the next seven days, finally flying back home late next Sunday night.

McDonald knows the team’s performance on the trip will likely be an indicator of things to come.

“We expect to play well and compete hard, but also to learn something about the makeup of our team,” McDonald said. “Our spring trip is when we learn a lot about who fits in where in our lineup and pitching staff, which is why we schedule difficult competition. You don’t get better playing teams that aren’t any good.”

For those fans wishing to catch some Ole baseball action next week but can’t make the trek down to the Sunshine State, you can listen to all the action live via the St. Olaf Athletics website. Log on to www.stolaf.edu/athletics/Webcasts for more information.





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