Dickinson State Blue Hawks baseball to build off of conference title run, fall season
Though the Dickinson State baseball team had a taste of some decent weather already this season, the Blue Hawks hope it's here to stay now in the spring.
Though the Dickinson State baseball team had a taste of some decent weather already this season, the Blue Hawks hope it’s here to stay now in the spring.
The weather forecast for Saturday is 60 degrees with a 22 mph wind.
In early March, the Blue Hawks will take it.
After playing 10 games in the fall, DSU resumes its season at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. today against the University of Minnesota-Crookston in a doubleheader at Southside Ballpark and Astoria Field.
“Practices are practices. It doesn’t matter how long you go, it’s what you do and how you do those things,” DSU head coach Jason Watson said. “That’s kind of what I’ve been stressing with these guys. … They’ve really taken and ran with that. The focus has really been there.”
DSU junior transfer Sagan Osborne can’t complain. The infielder who came to DSU from Treasure Valley Community College in Oregon last summer is from Anchorage, Alaska, and isn’t afraid of baseball in the cold climate.
“It feels nice to get four home games right off the bat,” Osborne said. “We’re really excited to come out in our own fence and our own field, and get off to a good start.”
Though it’s only over 10 games, Osborne ranks fourth in the NAIA with two hits per game and helped DSU go 5-5 in those fall games. Osborne hit .467 with a .619 slugging percentage and tallied four runs, four doubles and seven RBI.
Returning first-team all-North Star Athletic Association sophomore shortstop Dylan Skabo batted .375 in the only two games he played last fall.
“I’ve lived in North Dakota and played baseball here all my life, and being able to get back on the field at the end of February was really exciting,” said Skabo, a Dickinson native. “I’m excited to get back on the field and play some meaningful baseball games again.”
However, Skabo is the only returning all-conference player from a year ago.
The Blue Hawks will have to replace the production of NSAA player of the year and first-team all-American outfielder Jordan Tescher, who went on to play professionally with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. Combined with the loss of all-NSAA outfielder Eric Seiler, Skabo figures his team will replace their absence by committee.
“This year we’re trying to have a successful conference season and win as many conference games as we can, and hopefully go into the conference tournament No. 1,” Skabo said. “Then from there, we’ll see what happens.”
However, Watson also figures enough freshmen and transfers have come in to reload the roster after the Blue Hawks made a surprise run into the NSAA championship with a 20-31 regular season in which they were 5-15 in conference play.
“That was great, fun and awesome,” Watson said of last season’s run. “But what we’re trying to build off of is the fall. We’re kind of using that as motivation and momentum going in is those 10 games. … I feel we were a hit there, an error there, away from being higher than 5-5 in the fall.”
Though the season is still young, DSU’s pitching staff has been developing as well, Watson said -- especially in terms of depth.
Senior Josh Schuller, who dealt with a wrist injury on his throwing arm last season, recorded a 4.98 earned-run average while going 2-5 last season. He lowered that ERA to 3.81 over four fall games in which he went 2-2.
“I was stronger at the end of the season,” Schuller said. “I’m just hoping to carry that over, and I had a decent fall, so I’m hoping to continue that.”
Most importantly, Watson said, his team needs to be able to build off of the successes and lessons learned from the fall - and not so much last season - to take that into the rest of the spring.
“I think we have an opportunity to be a very successful team,” Watson said. “It’s just a matter of showing up and doing it.”