By Jason Groth
The Itasca Community College baseball team is itching to get back outside after spending a week playing in Florida, the Vikings have been stranded inside due to the severe winter taking place in the Northland.
The Vikings sit at .500, 5-5, overall on the season but have had to cancel four games due to unplayable field conditions in St. Cloud.
“Things are going very well. We had a great trip to Florida and had great weather,” ICC head coach Justin Lamppa said. “I was very pleased with the trip and we are excited for the rest of the season, hopefully Mother Nature will allow it.”
The Vikings feature a deep pitching rotation that will be the key to their success when they finally get back outside. Due to the weather, the Vikings are expected to have a backlog of games and that pitching depth will play a factor in their success.
“We pitched extremely well and that was one of our strong points. We threw a lot of strikes and kept our teams in the game when we saw some really good pitching, we had some low scoring games,” Lamppa said. “I was very pleased with the way we threw the ball as a collective group and we had a couple of individuals that carried us and that was good.”
The Vikings feature a sophomore laden and experienced team that has high expectations heading into the year. Lamppa says that experience is key for his team.
“We have 17 sophomores and all 17 are very important for what we are trying to do,” Lamppa said. “We have second year kids that make a big impact. When you have that maturity on the field and the ability to do that stuff in practice, you can get a lot of things accomplished and we are excited about the season.”
The Vikings have a local flare to their squad for the 2014 season. The Vikings feature nine players from Grand Rapids, Deer River, Coleraine and Nashwauk as they enter the new season.
“It is very nice to have the local guys. Our fan base increases when that happens. It’s nice for the area kids to have a place to continue their baseball career and to have a chance at a four year school after Itasca,” Lamppa said. “It’s nice to have the local guys and they are all doing very well.”
The Vikings have a deep and talented team, however, the inability to play has hampered them. Lamppa says playing multiple games during the week will help his team as they get ready for conference play.
“The key to the season will be the ability to play. We have a good group and we are very deep,” Lamppa said. “We need to keep playing games and not just playing one game a week. The opportunity to play multiple games a week will definitely give us a better chance because I think we have a deeper roster and talent in the conference and that will come to the surface.”
The Vikings hope to return to the diamond on April 4 with a game against Anoka and follow that up with a trip to St. Cloud. The Vikings home opener is set for April 18 at Legion Field against Lakehead College.