A snow-blanketed baseball field is not an uncommon sight in Minnesota – in the months of December, January and February, that is. This April, however, has defied seasonal norms, gaining a place in record books as the third snowiest in state history. The 17-plus overall inches of precipitation this month have affected most Minnesotans: Traffic has crawled, schools have closed and, indeed, the great American pastime has been forced to defer to Mother Nature.
This last inconvenience has carried particular significance for the baseball and softball teams at St. Olaf – and all MIAC schools. As of April 23, the Ole men had played only one doubleheader this month a 1-8, 8-2 split with Bethel University on April 7, postponing many more. The women, faring slightly better, were able to complete April 4 and April 7 doubleheaders against Gustavus College and the University of St. Thomas, all four games resulting in losses for the Oles.
With similar predicaments occurring throughout the MIAC, league coaches and administration took unprecedented action last week, revising the conference baseball schedule and changing the format of the softball postseason playoffs. For baseball, MIAC Executive Director Dan McKane and Assistant Director Afton Goebel performed a complete overhaul of the original conference calendar, drafting a new schedule that allows each team to play all 20 conference games. As of April 24, the baseball playoffs are set to occur as originally planned. However, that could change if not all conference games are able to be completed by the playoff start date of May 10.
As softball playoffs are set to begin a week earlier, the MIAC announced changes to the postseason format in order to accommodate teams who were unable to complete a full regular season. Instead of featuring the top four teams based on conference records, the 2013 playoffs will include all 12 MIAC schools, split into three-team pools playing round-robin style. The first-place teams from each pool will advance to a four-team, double-elimination tournament on May 4-5.
With sunny, warm-weather forecasts predicted for this weekend, it appears that Minnesotans can finally look forward with confidence to the sights of spring: green grass, fresh leaves and the long-hidden expanses of an outfield.