The weather on Saturday and Sunday allowed the Ursinus College baseball team to get to practice on Thomas Field for the first time all year long. This was an unexpected but welcomed surprise for the team as the warm weather allowed hitters to face live pitching for the first time before their season opens on March 4th in Florida.
The disadvantage to playing baseball in the northern region of the country is clearly the weather. “This is the first time I have every played or practiced in February” is what sophomore pitcher Matt Rapp told me after practice. Rapp, being from Connecticut, has experienced the weather issues multiple times prior to coming to Ursinus. When asked about the importance of being able to get onto Thomas Field for the first time, Rapp responded “It was a major advantage for both pitchers and hitters.” The ability for hitters to finally get to face live pitching before their first game is a rarity in this region of the country due to the weather. It is much different than simply standing in on one of the bullpen sessions but not actually hitting the pitches. It was also important for the Freshmen batters to finally see college level pitches. Freshman Kyle Supran said “there was definitely a difference, in both the speed and location of the pitches” when asked to compare the quality of the pitches to what he saw in his high school career.
The pitchers also benefited greatly from the chance to throw against live hitters. Sophomore Aidan Rodgers stated “It was good to see which pitches were working and which weren’t against live hitters.” Rodgers spoke about how different it is compared to throwing a bullpen saying “there is no comparison, it’s very beneficial” when asked about facing live hitters for the first time. This allowed the pitchers to get a feel for their location and speed at an earlier stage of the season.
There was definitely a different vibe to the practice as well which much more intensity and competitive spirit among both the pitchers and the hitters. Many players commented on how it was nice to finally square off against each other in practice. Citing that this practice felt much more similar to a real game environment due to finally get out on Thomas. “It was nice to finally get out on a baseball field instead of being stuck on Snell or the gym” said Rapp about the importance of playing on Thomas for the first time. This beneficial weather will hopefully have a positive carryover for the Bears and help them find success as their season is rapidly approaching. Their first game is March 5th in Florida as they face off against East Mennonite.