Baseball team slides into season on Saturday

by Ashley Van Alstine

Hard work will get the Simpson baseball team back on track for another year of stiff competition.

The baseball team officially started practicing for the 2006 season Feb. 1, and the Storm’s first game is March 4 at Nebraska Wesleyan.

According to junior AJ Wieck, a catcher for the Storm, the team is focusing on fundamentals.

“The practices right now are working on the basics,” Wieck said. “We’re just trying to get back into the full swing of things. In practice we do a lot of repetition, mostly hitting right now because it’s hard to do defense work inside.”

According to Bill Blake, assistant head coach, confidence is the key to this team’s success.

“They’re as strong as anybody,” Blake said. “The guys need to start believing in themselves. They need to realize that they can compete with any team.”

Blake said they can only give the players instruction but from there they have to hope their players are able to put the rest together.

“The team has worked towards putting everything together, getting everybody on the same page,” Blake said. “In the fall we try to get the younger guys up to speed. Then we move into the spring season and hopefully everyone is headed in the same direction. From there we try to get everyone playing the game right. When you get to this level you have to be a lot more precise compared to high school. We really try to work with our athletes to get them ready for the college level.”

The success the baseball team has shown couldn’t happen without a dedicated coaching staff.

“The coaches keep us looking at the big picture,” junior first basemen Brandon Bingham said. “They remind us to keep looking towards the end of the season and what our goals are.”

John Sirianni’s record speaks for itself. He’s in his 22nd year as head baseball coach for Simpson. In that time, he has had 484 wins and a .619 winning percentage, which places him among the top 30 of all active Division III coaches. He has led the Storm to six NCAA Tournaments, two Iowa Conference Championships and one Iowa Conference Tournament title.

Blake is in his third season on staff for Simpson baseball team. He serves as the Storm’s hitting coach and will be the third base box coach as well.

“Coach Sirianni is a great coach,” Blake said. “He’s a very old school coach. He’s the type of guy who’s thought about every angle and every play two or three times. He’s really taught me a lot. We have a pretty strong core of coaches and he is really receptive to our ideas. Whenever you have that type of coaching staff the kids have to benefit from it the most.”