Storm prepares to take to the diamond


by J.C. Blomstedt

With months of work in the fall and winter already under its belt, the 2005 Storm baseball team is looking to pick up right where it left off after a very successful 2004 campaign.

“Our expectations are to be very competitive in the IIAC and get back to the NCAA Tournament,” said head baseball coach John Sirianni, who guided the team to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999.

The Storm begins its season on March 6 at Graceland in a doubleheader before traveling to the Florida Coast Spring Training Camp in Fort Pierce, Fla. The first conference matchup for the Storm is April 4 at Loras.

Sirianni said the Storm’s top competition in the conference will come from Wartburg, Buena Vista and Central.

He also stressed that this team will be very different from last year’s due to the loss of six pitchers and multiple All-Conference team members. He hopes freshmen pitchers Trent Kain, Jake Ritchey and Keaton Sansgaard will fill in for these losses.

“I’m really pleased with the progress our pitching staff has made,” Sirianni said. “Basically pitching is where it all starts and where it all ends.”

Senior pitcher Shawn Parker sees the pitching staff shaping up to be impressive.

“I think our pitching staff has the chance to be as strong as last year’s,” Parker said. “I think everybody has made improvements since the fall and beginning of practice.”

Sirianni also said he was pleased with the players he has transferred into the program. Junior pitcher Mark Voelliger, a transfer from Indian Hills Community College, said his transition to Simpson’s baseball team has been smooth because of his teammates.

“I’ve felt very comfortable with the guys, we have a lot of fun,” Voelliger said.

Another important element, according to Sirianni, is the comeback of junior Jon Clanton, who didn’t play last year due to shoulder surgery.

“I expect him to be one of our real leaders,” Sirianni said. “He was an all-conference catcher two years ago and he swings the bat really well.”

Sirianni expects returning players junior Dusty Kain and Parker to be key components to this year’s team.

“I think we’ll be a good all-around team,” Voelliger said. “We have a good offense and pitching staff.”

Sirianni said the players in field positions will have a lot of competition from their teammates for playing time because he has so many quality athletes.

“We have 10 to 13 guys that we’re looking at to see how to find the best team possible,” Sirianni said.

He said the possibilities for the outfield and infield are numerous and it helps to have a team with players like senior Joe Young, who has played multiple positions and is a strong presence at the plate.

“We’re just trying to make the best lineup,” Sirianni said. “We’re still moving players around. Our objective is to get together the nine best guys.”