When spring rolls around in Vermillion and the snow melts away, Prentis Park becomes the home of the University of South Dakota club baseball team.
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The school does not have baseball as a sanctioned sport, so the USD club baseball team allows numerous students with baseball roots to continue playing the game they’ve played most of their lives.
Junior catcher Sam Parkinson said the opportunity to play baseball at a competitive level is something he truly enjoys.
“Playing club baseball allows students who want to continue to compete at a competitive level without a huge time commitment the ability to play,” Parkinson said. “I enjoy it because it’s a bunch of guys who want to get together and play a game they love. It’s a relaxing, fun atmosphere.”
Despite not classifying it as a major time commitment, Parkinson said the team does practice routinely.
“We practice a few days a week in the fall and three days a week inside the Dome during the winter,” Parkinson said. “During the spring we try to get on the field four times a week for a couple hours to make up for the time we’ve lost in the winter.”
The team kicked off its season this past weekend with four games against the Iowa State Cyclones. Although they lost all four games, senior pitcher Steven Blom said they have too many games ahead to worry about the losses.
“It’s been awhile since our team had seen live baseball,” Blom said. “We’re not going to get caught up with losing to a team that spent all of spring break playing in Florida.”
One of the biggest adjustments for the team is all the new faces around the diamond. The team had four players from last year’s team graduate and added 12 new players for this year. Parkinson said being able to bond with the new guys is good for the team.
“We’re younger this year,” Parkinson said. “Bringing guys together who have different backgrounds in baseball leads to a good mixture with good new perspectives about the game.”
Iowa State is some of the toughest competition the team will face all year. Blom said the Cyclones’ level of talent will help them prepare for their upcoming games.
“Seeing one of the best teams in the conference right away can only help us in being prepared for the other teams,” Blom said.
USD has another set of back-to-back doubleheaders this weekend against Northern Iowa.
Photo: Junior Chris Zimmer throws to home plate during practice March 28 at the baseball field. (Malachi Petersen/The Volante)