While some Iowa State students will be traveling to South Padre, Mexico, and even California to enjoy some nice weather, the club baseball team will be going on a business trip.
The team will travel to Plant City, Florida to participate in the National Club Baseball Association Spring Training Showcase.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said president Bobby Thompson. “You see teams from all over the country come to play in Florida. It’s a chance to see what some of the new guys have and what they bring to the team, and also to see some different competition.”
The event will host 28 teams from around the nation, to give each an opportunity to get a jump on the upcoming season.
Iowa State’s biggest matchup will come in the first game of a Tuesday doubleheader.
The Cyclones will face No. 4 Ohio State and it might end up being the best competition the team will face until the postseason.
“[That] will help us boost our resume in case we need to have an at-large bid,” Thompson said.
Out of the other five teams in Iowa State’s conference, the Mid-American Region North, only Iowa was ranked in the preseason Top 20, coming in at No. 13.
Iowa State will play six games while they are in Florida, stretching over three days. All of them will be doubleheaders.
“This is like the big one,” said Thomas Anderson. “It’s a way for kids to get started in season competition before the season really begins.”
Although playing two games in a day right off the bat can be tough, the team will be faced with a new challenge this season.
Due to weather in Iowa, the team was not able to practice outdoors before making the trek to Florida.
“Last year we were outside practicing a week and a half or two weeks prior to going down south,” said vice president Cole Henry. “We were kind of prepped and ready to go. We had some practices under our belt. This year, the field hasn’t quite dried out yet, so Florida is going to be our first taste of being outdoors and seeing fly balls hit.”
A trip to Florida could easily get pricey, but the team keeps the cost low by carpooling in a 12-passenger, university-sponsored van.
“We keep the cost low for the trip so altogether it’s a very reasonable trip to go down south, play some games, and see some action from teams from all over the nation,” Henry said. “You can’t beat that. It’s a bonding experience and we come back stronger from spending a week with each other.”
Being a club, the baseball team has access to utilities like the van, but can also be more flexible as an organization.
For instance, the team focused on making the schedule deeper this season, adding a fourth game to each series against conference opponents.
In the past, the schedule featured three-game series against teams in their conference, and the teams would sometimes scrimmage in a fourth game.
“That fourth game doesn’t matter as much [as the first three],” Thompson said. “We definitely put a lot more emphasis on those conference games, but we still take the non-conference games seriously.”
Thompson said that the fourth game will serve as a purpose to get a better look at some of the newer players on the team.
Due to the way the NCBA is set up, more emphasis is placed on conference games, allowing Iowa State to schedule more competition.
“We’re always trying to add random games here and there, but since I’ve gotten here it will be the most [teams we’re scheduled to face.]”
The season starts on Monday when the Cyclones take on Michigan Tech at 5 p.m.
“This is the most talented team we’ve had at Iowa State over the past six or seven years,” Thompson said. “We have the talent to go all the way.”