Baseball in Northern Maine at the collegiate level is a bit of a challenge, not because of the players in the opposing dugouts, but because you're forced to practice in a gym. The UMPI Owls are getting ready for their first season in the NAC and before they even stepped on the field, the coaches picked the Owls to place dead last.
"It lit a match in our souls man we're ready to get out on the field and tear it up," Junior captain Brad Patterson said.
"We're kind of excited to be the underdog and show the other teams what we have," Senior captain Ryan Sanderson said.
The UMPI Underdogs, has a nice little ring to it, and second year head coach doesn't mind the disrespect from the NAC coaches.
"It's nice to be the underdog, I've always been an underdog my entire life so may as well keep it that way," Second year head coach Roger Stinson said. "I think my guys are ready for it, so I hope we take them by surprise."
Last season, Stinson got hired just a few weeks before the start of the season. It was his first job at the collegiate level.
"It was a very nerve-wracking, very nerve-wracking experience, but at the same time a very fun experience, living the dream as I say," Stinson said. "I try to explain that to the guys you're playing college baseball that's a dream you know. There's a lot of kids that don't and the same aspect to coaching, I feel very fortunate to be here now we just gotta win."
Stinson brought in seven freshman and a few transfer to bolster his squad. The first set of challenges for the Owls will be a trip down to the Greensboro, North Carolina. All three of the captains are looking forward to getting out in the sun and playing against some tough competition.
"Very excited, we've been in here since January so it's going to be really nice to be outside and be on a field and see fly balls and hit on a field," Sanderson said.
"It's going to be probably some of the best competition that we face all year I mean these guys have been out on the field for a month already they don't have snow down there we're talking 75 degree weather," Junior captain Will Stinson said. "They have some good teams Wesleyan made national champions, like been national champions multiple years, yeah it's going to be some good teams to play against its going to be fun."
Their first action is a doubleheader on Monday, March 18 against Greensboro. Then they play the aforementioned North Carolina Wesleyan, which has won two national championships. Now that the Owls are in the NAC, they'll have a chance to play for a national championship. Something Sanderson wants the team to accomplish.
"Being a senior now, this is my last year so I'd like to get into the conference playoffs," Sanderson said. "Then keep going because I don't want to stop playing."
The Owls play games 18 games in 13 days starting on the 18th.