The current weather conditions have been nothing short of unanticipated. In baseball terms, it’s been something out of left field. Regardless, the Dickinson State University baseball team is beginning to go into full swing as preparations ramp up for the upcoming season.
It’s unusual to see America’s pastime being practiced and played outside on a grassy field in 50-degree weather and clear blue skies in January — but that is just what the Blue Hawks team have been doing.
For Blue Hawks’ Head Coach Michael Dahl, who grew up in the Minnesota suburbs of Shakopee, the opportunity to begin preparing for the new season outside during the unique weather this year was too good to pass up.
“Our first day out of practice in January and we’re outside, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to say that again in my coaching career if I’m here in the Midwest,” Dahl said.
With the baseball team seeing a brief hiatus, its most recent season being in 2018 when the team finished with a 4-29 overall record, 3-20 in NSAA play, the team may have been looking for a sign it was going to have the opportunity to return to the field in 2021.
The team’s prayers were answered -- but maybe just a little earlier than they had hoped.
“It was a fun moment for the guys,” Dahl said. “A lot of the guys joked about being outside in the month of January.”
Amidst the fun of being outside, with students now returning to campus and beginning the spring semester, Dahl and his coaching staff have officially begun the process of getting the team back into baseball shape and preparing for the upcoming season.
“It’s exciting, even though we’re still a couple months away and it’s cold up here the guys are seeing the bigger picture of we got games coming up in two months, we need to prepare and start getting better, Dahl said. “A lot of excitement going on in the locker room right now.”
In November, the early coaches poll was announced for the upcoming season. With its return to the baseball field after taking a hiatus in 2019 and the spring season being cancelled by the NAIA due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Blue Hawks were projected to finish seventh out of eight teams in the NSAA conference in 2021.
Dahl believes the low seeding will be able to boost the team in terms of motivation and wanting to get better each day, particularly in preparation for the upcoming season.
“Teams don’t know who we are, they don’t know exactly what recruits we have so I think we should be at the bottom,” he said. “That gives us a lot of motivation because now you’re not just playing to win, you're playing to gain respect and I think that dues fuel people a lot more. Knowing that ‘we’re going into this game and they don’t respect us, well let’s make sure they know who Dickinson State baseball is by the time we leave their field or they leave ours.’”
The young baseball team may just be getting prepared for the upcoming season, which is slated to begin in March, while the team may have some growing pains, Dahl believes there is a lot to look forward to when it comes to seeing the Blue Hawks hitting the diamond in March.
“We’re athletic but we’re still raw, there’s a lot of athletes on the team that can move around, do some multiple things but sometimes it’s untapped potential right now, some guys haven’t played baseball in a few years some guys are coming from different programs,” he said. “We’re trying to get everybody on the same page with what we’re trying to accomplish here at Dickinson State if anything I think it’s going to be fun to watch when we play.”
The Blue Hawks are currently scheduled to begin the season in Yankton, S.D. in a four-game matchup against Mount Mary University with back-to-back doubleheaders on March 6 and March 7.