While the grounds of the campus are covered in snow and ice, a new chapter is about to be written. After a month in the sunshine and warm weather, Minnesota State baseball returns to campus grounds. They are slated to kick off the 2022-23 season this Saturday at noon against Northern State.
Coming off a successful spring break trip to the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational, The Mavs prepare to start the new season. The only change is that, instead of Bowyer Field, they will play under the lights of US Bank Stadium until the snow melts.
Coming off last year’s NSIC Championship victory, the Mavs were gut-punched in the NCAA tournament and sent home in the first round. Entering the new season, the Mavs look to defend their title as the reigning NSIC champions. With a very mixed group this time around, Head Coach Matt Magers is excited to finally get things going, entering his 14th season as the team’s manager.
“This time of year, we kind of need to roll with the punches and be flexible in terms of where and when we play. But still excited about our non-conference fourteen-game schedule now that it’s a 36-game conference and playing five games a week. So that is something we are excited about,” said Magers.
It will certainly be tested as they prepare to open their season against fellow NSIC rival, Northern State University. Last season the Wolves struggled against their competition, only going 15-26 in regular season play and picking up just one win against the Mavs in a best-of-three series. However, after a respectable 5-6 campaign in their spring training and the RussMatt Invitational, they look to get the ball rolling with a win against the defending champs in their house.
The person that the Wolves will be counting on to pick up the win is their senior catcher, Niko Pezonella.
The native of Sparks, Nevada has been the go-to battery maid for the team since his sophomore year. During his career, he has compiled 59 hits, 7 HR, 39 RBIs, and a .225 batting average, making him a very balanced hitter. However, where he shines the most, is behind the plate as in his four years he has only committed six errors. This makes him one of the top defensive catchers in the conference.
With the countdown to Saturday’s opening pitch, all eyes will start to focus back on the champs as they take the field. A full offseason and months of training have finally led to this very moment for the guys taking the field.
While they certainly have a chip and eagerness to show out, Coach Magers mentions that they just need to take it one game at a time. Especially when it’s opening day against a rival and a very good team.
“I think with what I have seen from our group of guys is that if we can go out and can control what we can, our opponent does not matter to us. During the RussMatt we had times where we crushed our opponent and times where we got crushed. So just being able to go out and play consistently is something we hope our guys can do. If we go out there and pitch well, hit well, and play defense well, there are not many teams that we can’t beat,” said Magers.
Write to Charlie Groebner at Charles.Groebner@mnsu.edu
Header Photo: The MSU Men’s Baseball team competes in the U.S. Bank Stadium for a double-header today and a single game Friday against Northern State. (File photo)