Things are a little different this time of year for baseball at the collegiate level.
Unlike its professional counterparts, Penn State (1-2) does not have the luxury of Spring Training games. Instead, the team goes straight from indoor practices at Holuba Hall to outdoor play during its season-opening road stretch. The Nittany Lions will continue to adapt to the challenges presented by the change of scenery this weekend, when they travel to face Liberty (1-2).
“It takes time,” coach Robbie Wine said. “Those teams that have been outside, it sure is a lot easier. It’s so much easier.”
Wine said he thought the Lions played outstanding and looked like they were in mid-season form during their 6-4, season-opening win last Friday against East Tennessee State. However, the Lions dropped the next two games, as they continued to get acclimated to playing without a roof over their heads again.
Playing in Lynchburg, Va. this weekend, the Lions will still be feeling the effects of February weather when they take on the Flames. In fact, the wintry conditions have already moved Friday’s contest back and made Sunday a doubleheader.
However, outfielder Steve Snyder said he thinks the Lions are suited well for the potentially cold weather they might encounter as they continue to stay on the road until March 20.
“I think, honestly, we’re a little bit better fit for the weather since it’s always cold up here,” the redshirt junior said. “We can’t use that as an excuse, because both teams are playing in the same conditions and you just got to deal with it.”
To combat the colder conditions, infielder Luis Montesinos said he just needs to stretch out longer and do a little extra to get ready for the game.
The Lions could still face a disadvantage early on in the season, though.
While teams in the southern portion of the country have been able to get outside to practice, the Lions have been cooped up inside Holuba for many of their preseason practices. The team has only been able to practice outside once this semester, and Montesinos said it was a short, half-hour session.
Outfielders like Snyder need to adapt to playing without a roof when the season begins. At practices, fly balls are prone to hitting the roof, but there are no dead balls in the field of play during actual games.
“It’s just getting your footwork back, and everything that outside brings — the wind, everything just changes when you go outside,” Snyder said.
Other than the conditions that are usually prevented by Holuba’s roof, Wine said the team has to get used to blocking out the distractions found in real-game settings.
Although playing outside and in front of a crowd is far from uncommon for the team, it is a change of pace from what can be found inside Holuba.
“It’s just, [at] Holuba, it’s real quiet. Nothing’s really going on at Holuba,” Montesinos said. “It’s dull, nobody’s talking much, there’s no music [and] there’s nothing surrounding us.”
Even if there is a process at the beginning of the season, Wine said the time for blaming the differences is over.
“There’s no time. This weekend is the time to put some wins on the board with no excuses,” Wine said. “…There is no reason why we should not go out and win three this weekend.”