It’s baseball season. Just look out the window… wait, well maybe that won’t convince you, but it really is.
The University of Maine baseball team is in its fourth weekend of action, but has pretty much flown under the radar with the excitement surrounding the UMaine basketball programs.
Congrats to coach Amy Vachon and her team on winning the America East title, and good luck in the NCAA Tournament. Congrats to coach Richard Barron on being named men’s basketball coach. I’m excited to see what he will do with that program.
Back to baseball.
UMaine is in the midst of the early part of its schedule, and the travel has been rigorous to say the least. Texas, Georgia, Florida, back to Texas, and New Mexico. Those are the locations of Maine’s first five weeks of the season. Brutal travel if you ask me. Once when I was working with baseball I did some random research. I think that year only North Dakota State University had a later home opener than the Black Bears did.
All credit to Maine. So many of the northern programs have dropped baseball. New Hampshire, Boston University, and Vermont have all seen their programs go the way of the dinosaur. Maine has persevered and practiced in the dome. They’ve traveled to Florida for the season-opener many times and that was the first time they had taken batting practice outside. They’ve played home games with wind chills in the teens. I’d sit in the press box with a hat, mittens and a space heater and they’d be outside.
In case you missed it with everything else going on the baseball team played at #24 University of Miami the first weekend in March. Maine defeated the Hurricanes 6-1 on Friday night behind a stellar performance from standout pitcher and Bangor native Justin Courtney. He earned his second straight America East Pitcher of the Week honors for his performance. The following day Maine scored two runs in the top of the ninth to force extra innings and the two teams played 15 innings before Miami eked out a 7-6 win.
Being a student-athlete at any Division I institution is not easy. I’d say playing baseball in the northeast adds an extra degree of difficulty. I vividly remember getting on the bus with the baseball team on Friday afternoons and heading south. There were times we did not know where we were going. Coach would be on the phone as be traveled south looking for a playable field in the hopes of getting in some games. We’d always find a field somewhere, but there was no telling where it would be and what accommodations would be available. Baseball in the northeast in the spring is interesting to say the least.