The mercury level has steered clear of the freezing mark for some time now. Prior to Sunday, Cherokee County — and much of Oklahoma — hadn’t experienced temperatures above 32 degrees for more than a week.
The snow that fell more than seven days ago is still visible and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere until later this week — at the earliest.
Still, the frigid temperatures and lingering snow haven’t halted Northeastern State’s preparations for the 2014 baseball season.
“The weather the last 10 days has made things a little bit more difficult, but everybody in this region is dealing with the same thing,” NSU coach Travis Janssen said. “So we don’t talk a lot about it; we just continue to prepare.”
Already, NSU’s first set of games in 2014 have been postponed. The RiverHawks were slated to play at Southeastern Oklahoma State today, but those games have been called off with a makeup date still to be determined.
That means NSU’s first action this season will be on Thursday with a doubleheader at Harding on Thursday, which was added to the schedule on Tuesday. NSU will then open at home on Sunday against second-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato. That will leave the RiverHawks with four non-conference games before diving into Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association play on Feb. 21 at Missouri Western.
“Last year, game one of the season was a conference game,” Janssen said, “so four non-conference games sounds pretty good to me.”
Janssen said that it’ll be a process to figure out all the working parts on his team, especially with 10 seniors graduating off of last season’s club. But he knows that’s the nature of the business.
“We did lose some guys from last year’s team — some high-character guys,” said Janssen, whose team went 28-23 overall and 25-20 in MIAA play in 2013. “We lost some guys that had been with us that had been with us since my first day at NSU, but I think any solid program is going to lose good older players. That’s the way it is in college athletics. We have a great nucleus of guys to build around.”
With guys like David Weber, Kyle Singleton and Cody Robinson back, Janssen’s club will have plenty of seasoned veterans returning.
“We return a lot of innings on the mound, and we basically return six guys that were every day-type players,” Janssen said. “So we are comfortable with the experience that we have coming back. We actually think one of our strengths is our returning experience.”
In a league that NSU finished sixth in last season, that experience in the MIAA will be crucial.