Storm baseball preview: Winning IIAC is realistic goal

by Olu Rotibi

Talent and depth are the words to describe the Simpson men’s baseball team as they prepare for the 2013 season.

After losing in the first round of the 2012 IIAC Tournament to Luther College, the Storm have hopes and aspirations of clinching a conference title. The Storm finished the 2012 season with an overall record of 18-24 and a conference record of 12-12, but with a talented core and a deeper team the Storm have many options depth wise.

With the Storm losing key seniors from the 2012 season including pitchers Chris Dorff , Kyle Ruehle ,outfielder Colton Calvert and catcher Grant Thomas, look for a new crop of seniors to have a significant impact for the Storm.

The Storm will look forward to contributions from senior Tyler Crandell who led the team with a batting average of .327. First team all- IIAC selection senior third baseman Michael Chia will also help bolster the Storm lineup after hitting .316 with 21 RBIs in conference play. Junior Aaron Young and senior Junior Rodriguez anchor the Storm pitching staff. Young finished the 2012 season with a 2.78 ERA in conference play while logging 92 innings to lead the Storm. Rodriguez will be a key component to the Storm’s pitching staff after appearing in 20 games and posting the lowest ERA last season at 3.17.

Ben Blake is preparing for his sixth year as Storm head coach. Blake is excited for the upcoming season which will see a new four game format system, which will include four game series against every conference opponent except Central College. Having depth and rotation will be a quality key for Blake and the Storm.

“We have a bunch of talent and depth this season which will help us in these four game series,” said Blake. “This will give us a boost and help us down the stretch of the Iowa Conference.”

Winning the Iowa Conference Tournament is one of the goals for senior infielder Blake Heitmeier , who will play a major role for the Storm this season.

“If we can take at least three out of four in every series, then we should be in line to be the top team in the conference,” said Heitmeier. “We have to take one game at a time and we should continue to grow as a team.”

Along with Heitmeier , senior Pedro Rosa will provide leadership for the Storm after providing depth for the Storm last year coming off the bench. Being versatile and being a leader in the locker room is a role Rosa is looking forward to this season.

“My goals for the season are to help my team win ball games in any and every way possible,” said Rosa. “I’m really excited for us to put it all together and get after it as a team when the season starts.”

Rosa also looks forward to seeing how youth will play a factor in the season.

“We lost two top pitchers and two solid hitters last season,” said Rosa. “But we have a lot of young talent this year which should be exciting.”

As the Storm continue to prepare for the first game of the season Coach Blake looks forward to seeing the leadership and growth from leaders on his ball club.

“I am looking forward to seeing this talented bunch of players improve and grow as a team,” said Blake. “With a talented senior group we should be in great position to win the Iowa Conference.”

The Storm will begin their season Feb.22. vs. Sul Ross St. in Clarksville, Ark.