FAIRBANKS, AK-Obviously not the ideal conditions for baseball but the North Pole Patriots will be the first interior team to get on the diamond this season. The Patriots will play Sitka three times and Thunder Mountain twice this weekend.
Today they traveled south to play Sitka for their opener. It will also open their eyes to competition on baseball field instead of the gym. Head coach Russ Herold and the rest of the North Pole coaching staff were emphasizing the mental part of baseball a lot to their players at last night's walkthrough practice. The mental aspect of the game will be important in these early games and the rest of the season given that the Patriots were only few plays away from winning some close games which could've secured a state tournament berth. The Patriots think that will change this year.
"Last year, we just made a few mistakes here and there which really cost us some close games. This year, we just need to make those plays in and we should be fine," senior center fielder Chad Freeman said.
Senior shortstop Tyson Herold sees the Patriots ability to hit as a big assest for this season.
We're pretty solid through the line-up, I mean everyone makes contact good at all parts of the field. It'll help, I mean, it's definitely a very strong point. We get a strong defense too, so I mean, we're all around," Herold said.
"We've been having some good hard practices and I'd say about half the team are returning players which helps a lot. We have some good young upcoming talent on the team this year, so we hope to be able to compete with everybody," assistant coach Craig Fowler said.