Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hurry up and wait! Part 2

Greetings Blugold Faithful!

Well, Mother Nature is speaking loud and clear again. We were able to get 3 games in on Sunday afternoon at Carson Park on the football field. It was actually a great atmosphere and much to my amazement, there were close to 150 people there! I think the novelty of playing on the football turf was intriguing, and that may have brought some people out, but possibly the fact that this was our first home game of the 2009 season, and, really, it was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, very little wind, and now we really know what the TV announcers are talking about when they talk about the air temperature vs. the "temperature on the turf" at stadiums. It definitely was warmer on the turf, and I appreciated that! :)

We had a good day offensively on Sunday and everyone played again. Our pitchers need to cut down on walks - and if we can do that, we'll be in good shape. But we gave opponents far too many free passes on Sunday.

So yesterday was our "off" day and we'll be back at it again today, likely in the gym again. It's really too bad we didn't have a game scheduled yesterday - it was relatively warm, and Gelein Field was in great shape. I went out to Carson Park to check it out yesterday afternoon and it was beautiful! Every year I think that maybe our games should just be on a day-by-day basis - rather than schedule everything in advance, we should just leave the schedule blank and call each other like crazy the morning of a nice day. I know that's not viable, but sometimes it seems like it would be less work.

We're scheduled to play St. Norbert tomorrow at 3:00 in a DH - we're not supposed to get a lot of precip today, and temps in the upper 30's tomorrow may be the best we can do. If there's not a lot of wind, we'll likely go ahead and play. If temperature is the only factor, we can't afford to cancel game after game after game and stockpile the season at the end of April again - that's not good for anyone. Besides, I've seen plenty of games on the Big 10 Network where they're playing in sub-freezing temps - it's probably harder on the coaches and support staff than it is on the players! :)

Hope to see you at the park - bring your parka!

Coach Huntington

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Home Games!

I'm about to head out to Carson Park to get ready for our first home games of the season, but wanted to write a quick update on today. All the info needed should already be on our athletics website, but maybe some of you only read my blog and don't look too closely at the website - so for what it's worth...... :)

Plan A: play on the turf of the football field at Carson Park. Yesterday afternoon we measured everything out so our fence placement spots are marked for quick and easy set up. Right field will be slightly short, but the City put the outfield extensions on the the baseball field last week, so it is an 8' fence in right, which makes up for the slight distance discrepancy.......good timing!

Plan B: In the event that Gelein field is in playable condition at game time, we'll quickly carry the fence panels over to that field and play a "real" home game! So if you have strong arms and legs, we can use your help to carry the fence! The individual panels are pretty light, so it should make for quick work if everyone grabs a panel.

I'm really hoping Gelein gets itself ready, but we have no control over that. We practiced yesterday at our practice field at the Bollinger Complex, and it was quite soupy during the time we were out there, but it firmed up into playable conditions in the afternoon, so we'll just have to see. I had heard a rumor about the depth of the frost this year, but don't know how true it was. Talk of the frost being 8' deep - so I imagine that would take awhile to come out, and we need to have nights above freezing to make that happen. We're optimistic that the field will be ready for our home games next week, but again, no control over that, so we'll "hurry up and wait."

Games today: UWEC vs. Northland 12:00, UWEC vs. St. Scholastica 2:00 and 4:00.

See you at the ballpark!

Coach Huntington

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hurry up and wait!

The official "Hurry up and Wait" season has begun. It seems like that is the theme once we're back from our spring trip - we "hurry up" to get prepared to play the games that were originally on our schedule, and then we "wait" to actually play because the weather causes delays. You'd think one year after another of this would be enough to drive any softball coach way the heck out of Wisconsin, but yet I stay.......I guess I'm pretty happy here.....after all - the summers are amazing, unlike the Iowa summers when there was a severe storm every day that made me feel every day that my life was at risk. AND THE HUMIDITY!!!! LOL!!!! I do enjoy the summers here much more than Iowa - I rarely have to use my central air conditioning during the summer, and I absolutely LOVE to have the windows open in my house, so I guess the LONG winters are a compromise.......however, I DO plan to "winter" in the south when I retire, but that means a LOT of winter between now and then. Oh well......

I'm a bit tired - ok REALLY tired - tonight - just in case you thought the rambling in the paragraph above was normal......but I wanted to write a quick post about the games we have coming up on Sunday. Our trip to St. Louis was canceled when the major threat of rain/snow/sleet/slush, etc. factored in. We had to make the decision that the money we would spend and time on the road just wasn't worth it to MAYBE play a game. So once we made the decision to stay home, I got busy trying to figure out how we could make the weekend really worthwhile. I sent a text message to my buddy, Steve Wammer, the head coach and AD at Northland College in Ashland, WI, to see if, by chance, he might need to get another game on his schedule. Much to my amazement, he was in need of a game, so I told him we were working on getting things lined up to play on Sunday. In the meantime, Robin (my asst. coach) called Jen Walter at St. Scholastica to ask her the same question. At first she said no - she had just given her players the weekend off and many of them were headed home. But she called back and said that she could round them up and come down to play. We are ECSTATIC!!!! We ALL need to play games, and we'll play on Sunday either at our practice field at the Bollinger Complex at the corner of Stein and MacArthur, or on the turf at Carson Park. The only reason we would play on the turf is if the frost rears its ugly head in the next 24 hours and the field gets sloppy......but after 2 trips out to the field today, our chances look pretty good.

So game times for Sunday are 12:00, 2:00, and 4:00. We will play Northland at noon, then a doubleheader vs. St. Scholastica. The players are pretty excited to play, as three of them sent me text messages full of affection today when I told them that we would possibly be playing this weekend. :)

So with that, we'll see you at the diamond!

Coach Huntington

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Nice Week

Hello Blugold Faithful,

Well, it's been a nasty bite of reality since we returned from Tucson - haven't been able to practice outside since we've been back - but we're going out today, even though it's not supposed to hit 40, we just need to get outside to work on some defense today. So it will be short and sweet, focused on defense.

We head out for St. Louis tomorrow afternoon for a TOUGH weekend of games. We are ready for it and we need it. I think the team understands what happened in our downfall in our final 2 games in Tucson, and they are prepared to overcome those things. We will be challenged this weekend in all 4 games - so we need to be prepared to "bring it." This is a great opportunity for us leading up to our conference opener next week on Thursday vs. UWRF.

Next week's weather is not looking real good, but it can change so fast that I'm not getting too excited at this point. All I really want is for April 4th to happen. I'll deal with the rest of it......but I don't want to let down the many alumnae - both players and parents - who are planning to return to Eau Claire for our 25th Anniversary Celebration. I know I can't control the weather, so it is what it is, but I would give anything for a decent day. On the other hand, if you've been involved in softball in Wisconsin at all in your life, you understand the way the weather works, and you all will be just as appreciative if the weather cooperates! :)

For those of you who read this and live outside the Eau Claire area, (or if you don't have Charter cable) I am going to attempt to insert the video of a commercial that is currently running on Charter, a corporate partner. They have worked extremely hard to get things organized to help us run a first class event next weekend, and they even did a commercial to help promote it. Some of the players on the team have commented that they've either had the TV or the radio on and suddenly are haunted by my voice, only to realize that it's a commercial. Then by the time they realize what's going on, they haven't had a chance to see or listen to the entire thing. :) It's been quite amusing to listen to them describe the experience of hearing my voice out of nowhere in their dorm room or their house!


We can use all your energy right now to bring on some decent weather! Thanks!

Have a great day, and keep turning left - eventually it will get you HOME! :)

Coach Huntington

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

News on “Leave a Legacy Weekend” – Tailgate Party

Just in......the softball alumnae tailgate party on Saturday, April 4, will be held in the Oak Pavilion in Carson Park. That's the one that is just down the hill from the football stadium at the bottom of the driveway that goes up into the concessions area. Did that make sense? Here is a map: http://www.eauclairewi.gov/images/stories/parks/pdf/map_locations/Park_Maps/carson_park_mq.pdf

In the event of rain, the tailgate party will run from 11-2, rather than 11-1. We are still working on an indoor activity if weather should cause the cancellation of the games.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tucson Games Wrap Up

Blugold Fans,

Our spring trip didn't end exactly the way we wanted - we lost both games on our final day - but we were challenged, and we definitely needed that. Unfortunately, we did not respond to the challenges the way I hoped we would. We lost to an always scrappy, feisty, Central team 4-6, and then lost a slugfest to Denison 10-11. I wouldn't have thought we would lose a game when we scored 10 runs, but our defense really let us down in that game.

After having a couple days to reflect on our final day and our trip overall, I'm encouraged by the things we did and what I saw in our team. To panic at this point (after 2 losses on the final day)would be senseless - I think we have a good team - we just have to put things together and continue improving.

I think our team grew together over the course of our week. I witnessed a lot of laughter, jokes, games being played - very intensely and competitively, I might add - and just good times that our team had together. Those types of things are just as important as the games at this time of year.

I'm afraid the weather forecast doesn't look favorable this week in Eau Claire. Even though the temperatures don't look bad, the rainy forecast isn't encouraging. Nonetheless, we'll go outside if at all possible and practice on the turf at Carson Park. We have some specific things we need to work on this week before we head to St. Louis for games at Washington University on Saturday and Sunday. We'll work on those things this week, rain or shine, and get ourselves ready to play. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we'll be able to get our 4 games in down there.

I'll continue to keep the blog updated and remind Kidnie and Kristi that they need to update their blog on the NCAA website too - I'm sure they'll have some much more entertaining news for all the Blugold Fastpitch followers.

As always, remember to run 60 feet and turn left........

Coach Huntington

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tucson Games – Day 5

Greetings again, faithful Blugold Fastpitch blog followers!

It was another good day for the Blugolds. We gave up 10 runs in 2 games today, but we also scored 25 of our own, so I guess I can't complain too much. I'd like to see us give up fewer runs - if we face an opponent with dominant pitching, we could be in trouble. Today we defeated Pomona-Pitzer College 13-5 and Denison University 12-5. We are a little beat up now that the end of the week is drawing near, so it's probably good that our last day is tomorrow. However once again we've been able to play a lot of people, so that is helping with the aches and pains. It is what it is - no excuses.

Tomorrow morning bright and early we play a scrappy Central team for the second time this week. We will need to come out prepared to play, as Central always takes full advantage of an opponent's miscues. We follow the Central game with another game against today's game 2 opponent, Denison University. Immediately following that game we'll head back to the hotel to shower, pack up, eat, and hit the road to fly home from Phoenix.

Tonight I'll feature 3 Blugold players who had notable performances today. First is freshman Jess Freagon from Chippewa Falls McDonnel High School. Jess played shortstop for us today and hit the ball very hard all day. But the most memorable incident from the day was the pop up that her shoestrings interfered with. As she was retreating deep into the 5/6 hole to catch a pop up, one of her shoelaces got caught on a cleat on her opposite shoe and she took a digger. Amazingly, she ALMOST caught the ball anyway. Maybe velcro-closure shoes will help her. :)

The second Blugold tonight is another freshman, Nikki Bromelkamp, who hails from Zumbrota-Mazeppa High School (MN). Nikki caught game 1 vs. Pomona, and played right field in game 2 vs. Denison and was 5-7 for the day from the plate. No funny stories about "Bromel" tonight, but will keep you posted if anything should happen....

Our final featured Blugold tonight is senior, Bri Sturm, also from Zumbrota-Mazeppa HS. Bri pitched vs. Denison today, and although she gave up 5 runs, she pitched very well, which is something we really wanted to see from her. Bri has the ability to be extremely effective for us, and it was good to see her pitches working well, hitting her spots, and getting batters to pop up quite a bit.

It's an early morning tomorrow, with 6:00 breakfast, 6:30 departure, and games at 8 and 10. We'll get ourselves mentally on track by reminding each other that it's really 2 hours later at home, so it's not that big a deal. Not sure if I'll have a chance to post tomorrow, but our SID, Kevin Meinholz, does a great job of getting our scores posted quickly, so we'll be sure to phone the scores in after we play.

Hoping to finish the week strong!

Coach Huntington

Tucson Games – Day 4

Hello Blugold Fans!

We are about to head to the field for Day 5, so I thought I should write a quick update on Day 4.

Yesterday's opponents were Schreiner University from Texas and Augsburg College from Minnesota. We were able to come through the day with two victories - 8-2 and 11-2, respectively.

From yesterday's games I'd like to feature freshman pitcher, Ashley Meinen, from Chippewa Falls McDonnel High School. Ashley pitched 4 innings of shut-out ball against Augsburg, to earn her 2nd collegiate victory. (She had earned her first win vs. Lakeland on Monday) Ashley is doing a good job of hitting her spots and making her pitches work. I remind her to execute her pitches, and as long as she focuses on that, she does well. She also smiles a lot in the circle, which is fun to see. When I see that smile I know she's relaxed and having fun. Ashley has learned from practice that she can't afford to make mistakes as a pitcher - at this level, mistakes get hit hard - she is adjusting well to the college game.

Today's games are against Pomona-Pitzer, a team from California, and Denison, from Ohio. It's going to be a hot one today, as we play at 1:30 and 3:30, local time - high today expected to be near 90 (but it's dry heat) :). We've been pushing the fluids hard and the players have respected the sun and heat by staying hydrated.

We need to come out with a lot of energy again today - the team understands how important it is to play the way "we" play, so they're doing a very good job of bringing lots of energy to the game.

I've seen lots of positives this week - we have plenty to work on, but we have a bunch of freshmen who have earned a lot of playing time this week, and this experience is giving them more confidence. Last night we started a freshman battery, and 3 freshmen in the infield.

Keep the warm Wisconsin weather comin'!

Coach Huntington

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tucson Games – Day 3

Good Evening Blugold Fans!

We're halfway done with our spring trip, and currently sit at 5-1. We were able to win two more games today. Game one vs. Wesleyan (CT) ended with a 5-2 score, and game two vs. Lakeland ended at 5-1.

I like the progress I'm seeing in our team. We have a lot of players making contributions and we are finding that balanced offensive lineup that I had hoped for. We have a combination of speed and power that I'm very happy with at this point. I think we're getting better as the week is going along. I am also pleased with the energy we continue to have.

Although I feel that our entire team is contributing this week, I want to feature Aleisha Harper tonight. Aleisha is playing 2B and 3B for us and has been somewhat of a surprise. I knew she was talented in high school, but I didn't expect her to adjust to the college game as well as she has as quickly as she has. She has made an immediate impact and is gaining a lot of confidence this week. Aleisha is from Eau Claire North High School and I'm REALLY happy that she is now wearing a Blugold uniform. I'll try to feature a different player in future posts so you can get some more insight into our team.

We've been able to use all of our pitchers up to this point as well, and although we have plenty of room for improvement in the circle, we are getting the job done right now. We will continue to work hard - we need to cut down on the walks and the runs that we're giving up, but fortunately our offense has helped out our pitchers.

After the games today, we came back to the hotel and the players got to enjoy a little downtime by the pool, and we shared a lot of good laughs while we relaxed. We are off tomorrow, so we're going to have a chance to get some much-needed rest. It's great being outside in the sun and warmth, but it does take a lot out of us, so this chance to catch our breath and recharge is coming at a great time.

Before I sign off, I just want to shout out to Dave Ross, who wanted to make sure that I got a hard time for not posting more regularly! Dave, I'm so tired that I can hardly read the screen I'm typing on, but I don't want to let you down! :)

Also want to thank the Blugold alumnae who read the posts - know that I will make every effort to post regularly so I can keep you up to date! And please get your RSVP to Robin ASAP so you can be a VIP the first weekend in April! LOL!!! Sorry, couldn't resist.......

Thanks for reading.......keep 'em high and tight!

Coach Huntington

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tucson Games – Day 2

Greetings Faithful Blugold Fans!

Tonight I write with excitement as we won two games today! We were challenged, as we spotted our opponents early runs in both games, but our offense was amazing today. Every single Blugold player saw the field today in one role or another.

Game one started out a little rough, as walks plagued us early. We got down, but we were never out as our offense was alive throughout and we were able to outscore Edgewood 5-3. We got down very early against Marian as well. The Marian hitters jumped on our pitching and attacked early in the count. I don't think we pitched poorly, their hitters just did a very good job. We were down 6-0 before we came back with a 7-run inning of our own, which was sparked by one of our freshmen, Jenny Janke, who played 1st base in that game. We ended up winning the game 11-6. Our young players came through big in the second game.

Today was much better for our team from an intensity and energy standpoint. We came with enthusiasm from the first pitch, and I think our players saw what that can do for us. Despite getting down early in each game, our energy carried us until we were able to break through with some runs of our own.

I am proud of how our players are responding, also, to the frequent changes in our lineup. Everyone seems to be understanding what we're trying to do early in the season and they are supporting each other very well. We have the makings of another very cohesive team, and I like what I see.

Two more tomorrow before we have an off day - we'll play Wesleyan (CT) in a 9 a.m. (AZ time) game, then Lakeland, another in-region opponent, at 11 a.m. (AZ time). We're hoping to have the opportunity to go watch the University of Arizona practice tomorrow afternoon before having about 48 hours off to get some much-needed rest and rehydration. Several of our players have plans for Tuesday with their families - headed off to who-knows-where for some sightseeing, and, if I know this team, I'm sure some shopping will be involved.

Thanks for reading.......

Coach Huntington

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ups and Downs

Hello Blugold Fans!

We rebounded from a disappointing 2-1 loss vs. LaVerne today and defeated a scrappy Central team 7-2. Today was a tale of two different Blugold personalities on the field.

In game one, Bri Sturm pitched a great game to start her senior season, but defensive miscues and a lack of aggressive offense did us in. I make no excuses for our team. We didn't execute on defense or offense. Fundamental mistakes cost us. I was disappointed in our hitters as we did not go on the attack. We acted like we were waiting for someone to give us something. We did not play at a high level and did not have the intensity that I hope for on a daily basis. Our enthusiasm during warm ups was good - we wanted to play badly; but once the game started, we allowed our opponent to dictate the pace and the intensity.

Game two was a completely different story. We had another very good pitching performance - this time by Jenny Ross. And we decided to play aggressively on offense, attacking the ball and trying to make something happen. We started with 3 freshmen in the infield (Jenny Janke, Aleisha Harper, and Jess Freagon) and they did a great job. Ashley Meinen came on in relief for "J-Ro" and gave up one run in 2 innings of work - getting the first game jitters out of the way.

Regrettably, I wish we could have game one back to play again. But there's nothing we can do about it now. My hope is that the team learned from it.

Two more games tomorrow - 11 a.m. (AZ time) vs. Edgewood College and 1:30 p.m. vs. Marian College. Both games are in-region games for us, so we need these games, but as far as I'm concerned, they're all big games.

Thanks for reading.

Coach Huntington

Game On!

Greetings Blugold Fans!

Well, here it is......finally.......opening day! Since my last post the team has continued to work on preparation for the coming season, both on and off the field (gym floor). :) We might not be perfect today, but we're prepared. If our enthusiasm is any indication, we're going to have a good day today.

We arrived in Tucson on Thursday night, or, well, Friday morning - getting into our hotel rooms about 3 a.m. Arizona time, which was 5 a.m. at home. Despite the lack of sleep, Friday was a great day! Coach Baker and I got a chance to scout our Day 1 opponents, as well as another team that we'll be playing this week. We took the team to Golf Links Park for a GREAT practice - they are fired up and ready to go. Getting on the dirt on an actual softball field was awesome, and the players responded well. Then we had a great meal at the Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse (thanks Dayle!), and an early night to bed after a brief team meeting.

This morning Coach Baker and I got in a good workout, a good breakfast, we'll have pregame meal at 11:30 (AZ time), then it's off to the park to face the University of LaVerne in our first game, and Central College in game 2. Both teams will challenge us immediately, as LaVerne has already played 20 games, and Central played 2 yesterday. We will learn a lot today, and that will make us better.

It seems like just yesterday we were walking off the field in Salem, VA, after our National Championship - but at the same time, it feels like forever.

It's game day - No excuses, No regrets.

As always, life is a series of left turns - see you around the corner.......


Coach Huntington