ORONO — The America East season begins Saturday for the University of Maine baseball team.
Coach Steve Trimper’s team begins conference play, on the road, with a four-game series against defending champion and preseason favorite Stony Brook on Long Island.
If the challenge of facing a squad that is ranked No. 23 in the College Baseball Daily Mid-Major Poll isn’t enough, UMaine (9-16) also hasn’t played since a March 27 contest against St. Peter’s in Jersey City, N.J.
Having helped shovel 14 inches of snow off Mahaney Diamond over the weekend, the Bears were able to get out on the FieldTurf in a snow squall on Monday and again in cold, windy conditions Wednesday afternoon. They spent Tuesday in the Mahaney Dome.
“Today (Wednesday), we got in a good practice and hopefully tomorrow we get a good day,” Trimper said.
UMaine has tried to maintain a businesslike approach despite having its schedule — both games and practices — wracked by weather issues.
“Being a northern team, you always have to deal with weather and stuff,” said senior co-captain Joey Martin of Portland.
He explained the canceled games and schedule disruptions do hamper the Bears’ ability to improve by experiencing games or game-like conditions.
“We’d like to get those games in for our pitchers to get work and get ready for conference (play) and for us (hitters) to see live pitching,” Martin said, “but that’s why we have the dome.”
A.J. Bazdanes said the pitchers suffer from not being able to pitch their scheduled innings, although it does give them an opportunity to rest up.
“Time off for the pitchers hasn’t been the best, because it’s hard to go play (a ranked team) without seeing live hitting,” said the junior righthander. “It’s definitely not a good thing, but we’re going to come out this weekend and have healthy arms.”
Trimper said baseball is a game of routines, both for practices and games. Although theirs have been disrupted, the Bears are attempting to maintain as normal a schedule as possible.
“Having a hiccup of a couple of lost games over a week and a half, you just want to get back into that routine that we were establishing from all the nonconference games that we were playing,” Trimper said.
Martin said UMaine players stayed focused and energized during the hiatus. They must be able to flip the switch and return to game mode Saturday afternoon.
“Coach definitely talked this week about intensity going into conference (play),” said Martin, who views the start of the America East schedule as an emotional boost and a motivator.
“Everything that’s happened so far has just kind of been a steppingstone,” Martin said. “If you’ve been struggling lately, slumping, it’s kind of a clean slate. It’s a whole new season. This is what matters.”
The America East champion earns an automatic bid for the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship tournament.
Hathorn joins UM soccer staff
Linda (Consolante) Hathorn, who was a catalyst on UMaine soccer teams from 2001-05, has rejoined the program as an assistant coach.
Hathorn, a two-time America East Defensive Player of the Year, returns to her alma mater after a stint as an assistant at Valparaiso University in Indiana.
“She is a natural selection for the position given her familiarity with the university, (the) soccer program and me,” UMaine head coach Scott Atherley said in a press release. “I have enjoyed following her development as a coach for the past five years and I am confident that she will contribute greatly toward our continued success.”
Upon graduating from UMaine, Hathorn served as an assistant at Northern Arizona for three seasons through May 2009. She moved on to Regis University in Denver, a high-level Division II program, and then worked at Valparaiso.
There, Hathorn directed a spring training program and helped with recruiting and skill training.
She continues to assist with the Canada Women’s Youth National Teams, which won the U17 CONCACAF tournament in May 2010. Hathorn also is a consultant for the Canadian Soccer Association National Teams.
As a player, Hathorn was a three-time All-America East choice and competed on the Canadian Senior Women’s National Team.
‘Bears of Tomorrow’ is Friday
Black Bear Sports Properties, the multimedia rights holder for UMaine Athletics, will hold the inaugural Black Bears of Tomorrow program, sponsored by Weight Watchers of Maine, Friday at 10 a.m. on the Orono campus.
The university will host 200 fifth-graders from across the state who will participate in a daylong walking tour of campus, with a focus on academics, athletics and the arts. Some Black Bear head coaches will discuss the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, both physically and academically.
For more information, call Jason Hoyt at 581-4121 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.