Hillsdale College Baseball Week 8: Spring Training Part 2



We were finally down South in sunny Clearwater, Florida for a week’s worth of games. We played eight games in five days to prepare ourselves for conference play.

A majority of our games were played at Jack Russell Stadium which is now part of a baseball academy called “The Winning Inning”. After a weekend in Louisville where we went 0-4 to start our trip, we were looking to turn things around in Florida. At the beginning our struggles from Kentucky carried over into our busy week.

Our week was the definition of roller-coaster play. Our first day we lost to Ohio Valley University 3-2 and Kentucky Wesleyan College 12-2. The next day we had two games, one against Upper Iowa University and Eckerd College. Our morning game against Upper Iowa was postponed in the middle of the second inning because of rain but we were still able to play the nightcap at Eckerd.

Eckerd is in the Sunshine State Conference with the likes of University of Tampa who is ranked #1 in the country, and Lynn University which is ranked #13. Eckerd is currently third in the conference, so we knew that they would be a tough team going into the game. Both teams played great defense throughout the game. By the end of the ninth inning, we were knotted up at 2. We ended up losing on a base hit in the bottom of the eleventh even though we outhit them 10-3. Although we lost the game it was a sign that we can play with some of the best competition in the country. We had solid pitching, great defense, and were putting the bat on the ball and it was definitely a game that we can take good things from and put them toward future games.

Our next three games in the next two days ended in losses to extend our losing streak to eleven going into our final day of our trip. Having not won since our first game of the season it could have been very easy for us to phone it in the last two games and just focus on our conference schedule that begins later in the week. However, our coaches did not coach us to be that type of team and we are too damn proud and resilient to go down quietly.


A good performance in our last two games would be huge for us momentum-wise. Our last two games were against Mansfield University and Lock Haven University, both are good teams with a lot of talent. Against Mansfield our offense caught fire and put up the most runs we have all year. Our pitching let us down a bit however and we ended up losing  10-9. The loss was frustrating especially since we lost on a number of our own mistakes, but it was encouraging that we were hitting like we are capable of. We took that offensive momentum and used it to rack up 16 runs against a very good Lock Haven team in a 16-5 win. Not only did our offense continue its success in the second game but it was also our freshman Jake Lee’s first collegiate win on the mound which was a special moment for him.

After the game we loaded up the bus for a 21 hour bus ride back home. It is going to be an adjustment going from temperatures in the mid 70’s to freezing temperatures but the success we had on the last day of our trip was just what we needed going into our first conference series against #7 ranked Grand Valley State University on Thursday. We have an off day on Monday to get back into the swing of things school-wise and then two days of practice before we head to Grand Rapids.

Be sure to check in next Monday to see how we begin GLIAC play against GVSU and Walsh University!