Spring has not sprung for Trolls
Once upon a time, there was a thing called spring.
It usually started even before the official solstice, and baseball teams could get in a game or two along the way without traveling a thousand miles to do so.
Not this year. Trinity Christian College is among those schools that have been frozen out so far this season. The Trolls are 0-4, and those games almost shouldn’t count on the record, for there will have been two weeks between pitches when they take the field again — weather permitting, of course.
They haven’t played since Feb. 24, when they dropped a twinbill to Brescia in Owensboro, Ky., by scores of 2-0 and 5-1. Since then, a doubleheader against Grace College and two slated with Harris Stowe State have been wiped off the calendar.
The plan is to embark on a Florida trip to such postcard places as Winter Haven and Frostproof, with games beginning Monday. There will be 10 games in five days, which will give fourth-year coach Justin Huisman a fair idea of the depth of his pitching staff, if nothing else.
Even with six players graduated from last year’s squad, it should be good, based on the five returning seniors alone. Danny Britt, Vince Van Schouwen and Drew Chibe will lead the way, with Britt’s 3.49 earned-run average across 80 innings ranking as the best among the trio. Add a quartet of transfers -- including sophomore J.T. Yocum (Lewis University) and juniors Brad Kopale (South Suburban College) and Bob Wilmsen (Moraine Valley College) — and Huisman will have plenty of potential starters from which to choose.
Benny Collesano and Brett Husiman, back in the swing after a long injury rehab, will add depth.
Senior Peter Krygsheld returns his .305 average to the plate and his speed -- 17 steals last season — to the basepaths. He’ll lock down either third base, his spot last season, or shortstop. Senior Steve Brewer appears settled in at second base, while Joe Presutti will be back in right field, looking to exceed the seven homers he clouted last season.
The Trolls improved as the season went on last year, finishing 25-24 while compiling an 18-12 mark in Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference play. They made it to the NAIA Tournament for the first time, thanks to a runner-up placing in the conference tourney.
• Schedule: Monday, vs. Aquinas University, 8:30 a.m.; vs. Clarke University, 1:30 p.m. (Auburndale, Fla.); Tuesday, vs. Clarke (2), 9 a.m. (Leesburg, Fla.); Wednesday, vs. St. Ambrose University (2), 12:30 p.m. (Winter Haven, Fla.); Mar. 13, vs. Aquinas University (2), 11 a.m. (Frostproof, Fla.); Mar. 14, vs. Trinity International University (2), 9 a.m. (Lakeland, Fla.).
Fifth-year coach Missy Bolhuis’ team starts the season in Florida on Saturday with the first of five twinbills featuring seven teams. The openers are against Cornerstone and Grace.
There are six seniors among the Trolls’ 14 returnees, plus a crop of six new faces for a 20-person squad, the largest in recent times. That gives Bolhuis options she didn’t have before.
One no-brainer for her is relying on Brianna Brugioni as the ace of the pitching staff. Brugioni struck out 91 batters last year and led Trinity with 19 RBI, playing third base on those days she wasn’t in the circle.
Mattie McGuire (3.29 ERA) and Michelle Interrante will flip-flop between pitching and first base. They and the rest of the staff will be caught by dependable Kaleigh Velasquez.
Figure on Anna Phillips to return to the leadoff spot with her .356 average and penchant for stealing, with Ballan Reynolds (.290) and Tori Grzincic (.257) also expected to be regulars again. In the field, Grzincic may take over second base, while there will be battles for both shortstop and third base. The added depth from the expanded roster should provide incentive across the board.
• Schedule: Saturday, vs. Cornerstone University, 4 p.m.; vs. Grace College, 6 p.m.; Monday, vs. Marian University, 8 a.m., vs. Ave Maria, 10 a.m.; Tuesday, vs. Marian, noon; vs. Spring Arbor, 2 p.m.; Wednesday, vs. Ave Maria, 2 p.m.; vs. St. Xavier University, 4 p.m.; Thursday, vs. Mt. Vernon Nazarene (2), noon (all games in Clermont, Fla.).
TRACK & FIELD
Anna Bos and Andy Reidsma will carry National Christian College Athletic Association honors into this week’s NAIA Indoor Championship in Geneva, Ohio.
Both were feted as athletes of the week for their exploits at the NCCAA indoor meet. Bos finished second in the 5,000-meter run while eclipsing her school record by almost 30 seconds with a time of 17 minutes, 32.61 seconds.
Reidsma, meanwhile, was runner-up in the men’s 3,000 and also anchored Trinity’s two relay teams.