With our first game of the season two weeks away, our team, classmates, and fans are starting to get excited about the upcoming season.
On saturday we hosted the first annual Hillsdale College First Pitch Luncheon. The event was held at the Dow Leadership Center which is a hotel and conference center on campus. Players, coaches, parents, alumni, and fans enjoyed an Italian buffet while bidding on items in a silent auction. Items in the auction ranged from tickets to Detroit Tigers and Toledo Mud Hens games, to autographed memorabilia by the likes of Trevor Hoffman, Billy Wagner, and Alfonso Soriano.
We were extremely lucky to also have former MLB pitcher Steve Avery as a guest speaker. Avery, a Michigan native, played 13 seasons in the MLB with the Braves, Red Sox, Tigers, and Reds. He was an all-star in 1993 and was with the Braves when they had hall-of-famers Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and Bobby Cox. He spent time talking about his time in the big leagues and shared some good stories about his hall-of-fame teammates.
The same day as the luncheon, we had a team meeting with about the player/umpire relationship. We had an umpire that officiates collegiate games all over the region, including some of our games. He explained some of the rule changes coming, unwritten rules, and how to handle yourself with an umpire. It was extremely helpful seeing things through an umpire’s point of view and what they have to deal with. We all got a better understanding of what umpires go through and we all left the meeting with a deep appreciation for what they do.
Practice-wise things were pretty much the same as usual during the week. We had live hitting in the cages and team practice with situational work in the Biermann Center. One thing that was out of the ordinary was an injury to one of our starting pitchers. Sophomore RHP Lucas Hamelink was volunteering for a local charitable organization called A Few Good Men at a horse farm and was kicked in the hand by a horse. The kick broke the pinky of his throwing hand and caused him to get surgery. He had pins put in his hand and is expected to get those removed in 4-5 weeks.
Injuries happen in sports all the time. Although Lucas’s injury is a blow to our pitching staff, it will give other guys an opportunity to expand their roles. We are going to need someone to slide in Hamelink’s spot in the rotation and contribute while someone replaces that person’s spot. This situation could make us even stronger when Lucas is able to come back. When he returns we will be getting one of our top of the rotation starters back and will have developed other pitchers who will get more innings under their belt. The team mentality for the situation is that he will be coming back when we will be pushing to make the conference tournament and other guys will get an opportunity to step up and improve.