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ISSUE 119 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 3/24/2006

Sunshine State awaits Oles

By Ryan Maus
Sports Editor


Friday, March 24, 2006

For much of the past 30 years, the St. Olaf baseball team’s annual “Southern trip” traditionally meant players had to endure grueling, eight- to-10-hour bus or van rides through the heartland of the United States. The squad routinely took the opportunity afforded by spring break to forsake the slushy and snow-covered Northland for greener pastures of the South – usually to such locales as Missouri, Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas or Mississippi.

Last March, however, to the relief of many involved in the program, things got a whole lot easier.

2005 marked the first time the Oles utilized air travel to reach their spring break destination, as the varsity squad spent eight days in sunny Port Charlotte, Fla., competing against a variety of other Division III baseball programs. The experiment proved successful, as St. Olaf went 6-4 during the excursion en route to a 23-17 overall record and a second-place finish in the MIAC regular season standings.

“Last year was a lot of fun,” said second basemen Josh Maus ‘08, who is also the team’s leading hitter through four games this season. “It was great to get outdoors and play some high quality competition in Florida. I’m really looking forward to my second trip this year.”

Last March, the team played all of its games at the Charlotte Sports Park, former spring training home of Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers (the Rangers currently train in Arizona). The team will once again spend most of its time in Port Charlotte, but will play its final game against Colby College (Maine) at Terry Park in Fort Myers, Fla., which was most recently the former spring training site for the Kansas City Royals.

The Oles, who are 3-1 so far this season after sweeping a doubleheader from UW-Superior March 2 at the Metrodome and splitting with Elmhurst College March 6, play seven games in the seven days from Thursday, March 23, through Wednesday, March 29.

The team’s first opponent on the trip will be UW-Stevens Point, with whom the Oles split a doubleheader last spring in Port Charlotte. Other opponents include Washington and Jefferson College (located just south of Philadelphia), Worcester State (Maine), Trinity Christian College (Illinois), SUNY-Fredonia (New York) and Colby (Maine).

Todd Mathison ‘09, a first-year pitcher and infielder on the team, is also eagerly awaiting his first spring trip with the team.

“Everyone is looking forward to getting out and finally playing some real ball,” Mathison said. “I’m looking forward to getting to know all the guys that much better.”

For the second consecutive year, the St. Olaf athletics website will feature live webcasts of many of the Oles’ games from Florida. For a complete schedule and more information on how to tune in live, log on to www.stolaf.edu/athletics/webcasts.





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