Planes and games: Team has new travel plans for Arizona


by Aaron Sewell

The Simpson baseball team is planning to build on their Arkansas trip success next week as they head to the Russ Matt Greater Phoenix Invitational in Arizona.

What’s new about the spring trip this year?

The team will be foregoing its old way of travel on the bus and will be buying plane tickets instead. The bus ride has traditionally taken the baseball team on a 24-hour road trip – there and back.

“We’re flying down for the first time, so that’s pretty exciting,” said Ty Larsen, junior first baseman. “I don’t have to sit next to sweaty, smelling dudes for 24 hours, watching 33 movies.”

The Storm will face five teams over a span of eight days. Simpson will face off against Concordia (Ill.), Wisconsin-LaCrosse, Marian (Wis.), Wisconsin-Stout and Dickenson State. The team is currently sporting a 3-0 record following its sweep against Ozarks (Ark.) on Feb. 18-19.

Larsen is excited to ride the team’s current momentum into more competition – this time in warmer weather.

“We went down to Arkansas a couple weekends ago and started off the season at 3-0,” Larsen said. “We’re going to continue to improve and (we) hope to keep the winning streak going.”

In the invitational, the Storm will play nine games over the break before they come back to begin conference play against Dubuque. Head Baseball Coach Ben Blake is focused on the invitational games and the chance to get out of state for a while.

“I am mainly looking forward to the great Arizona weather, and getting a chance to get outside and play some baseball,” Blake said.

Weather is not the only thing on Blake’s mind: He is also looking forward to getting his guys back on the diamond.

“I am excited as always, it is a great time of year and a great opportunity to play a lot of baseball in a great setting,” Blake said.

Sophomore Kyle Pullins, who sees time on the pitching mound as well as the outfield, said the whole Arizona experience is something to look forward to.

“Just being able to get out of Iowa and (go) someplace warm for a while and actually getting to play baseball every day is exciting,” Pullins said. “Plus plenty of parents come down and it is just a great getaway.”

Larsen said this season has the potential to be a good one, and he hopes that this year’s team will make a run for the conference title.

“We have a lot of good athletes and talent this year, so it’ll be good to see how good we really can be,” Larsen said. “Our team chemistry is better than years past which will help more than people realize. I’m just looking to have fun and have it be a successful season for the Storm.”

Junior pitcher Chris Dorff is returning for the Storm after being named First Team all-IIAC last season. Dorff picked up two of the three wins in Arkansas against Ozarks, recording 12 strikeouts on the weekend.

Senior infielders Dave Johnson and Zach Smith along with sophomore Tyler Crandell each picked up homeruns in Arkansas on Feb. 18-19.