Season’s first pitches are down South

Bobby Scott, Editor-In-Chief

In 17 days, the Pitt-Johnstown baseball team is to embark on an 11-week marathon that is the 2015 regular season in Pembroke, N.C.

Head coach Todd Williams’ team is scheduled to begin the season on the road, playing their first 13 games in three states outside Pennsylvania.

The team started practice to kick off preseason workouts Jan. 5, the first day of the spring semester.

So far players have not been able to play in game-like conditions since the calendar year has started.

“Most of our practices are inside now due to the weather,” senior infielder/outfielder Mike Palkovitz said.

“Our coaching staff does a good job of keeping it interesting (when it comes to conditioning) and making sure we get plenty of defensive work in.”

The 2015 schedule is unlike any other in the past 10 seasons.

For the first time since 2010, a home game was not scheduled before the the annual spring trip that team participates in every year.

“The team is preparing the same way it has for my last three years at Pitt-Johnstown,” Palkovitz said.

“We are preparing to play the best baseball we possibly can every time we step on the field no matter where that field may be.”

Palkovitz batted .267 and recorded a 1.000 fielding percentage and 21 games played.  He had a more involved 2013-year attaining a .404 average with three homeruns and 37 runs batted in 45 games.

The team is to face off against the University of North Carolina-Pembroke in Pembroke Feb. 7-8 and conference foes Millersville University in Williamston Feb. 14-15.

The Mountain Cats were able to sneak into the conference tournament last season after starting 6-13, the team went 17-10 the rest of the way.

They made it to the semifinals as a No. 3 seed with a 17-11 west division record while obtaining a .500 winning percentage overall.

After the North Carolina games, the team is scheduled to participate in the 2015 Dinwiddie Challenge in Sutherland, Va. and/or Colonial Heights, Va. for two weeks.

Palkovitz said the long road trips help him concentrate on school assignments.

“It takes a little more planning, but, in general, it can sometimes help with getting schoolwork done,” he said.

“Long bus rides and nights on the road can present opportunities to (study) because there are not as many things to do and a lot of us have the same classes.”

The pool play style event where teams compete against three other teams in their assigned pool (A or B) and then the fourth game each team has will be a cross-pool game versus the team with the same standing.

Three different challenges take place in on three consecutive weekends from Feb. 20-March 8.

The Mountain Cats are to participate in the challenge the last two weekends.