After an adventurous trip to Lubbock, the Mount Marty baseball team is ready to take the field in the NAIA Opening Round Bracket 4, which begins today (Tuesday, May 18) at Hays Field on the Lubbock Christian campus.
The team left for Lubbock at 6 a.m. Sunday and, when they stopped in Oklahoma City for lunch,they got caught in a severe thunderstorm. (Here is some coverage of that storm from the Oklahoman.)
“We started walking out and the rain started coming down. Then it started to hail. It was as big as baseballs coming down,” said MMC head baseball coach Andy Bernatow. “There wasn’t a care in the lot that didn’t get a busted windshield or window.”
The storm also damaged the MMC team bus, knocking out two windows. The team scrambled to a couple area storms, using cardboard, duct tape and shower curtains to cover the windows. They finally got on the road and arrived in Lubbock at 1:30 a.m.
Since arriving in Lubbock, though, things have gone much better. They practiced at a field on the LCU campus, then took batting practice at Hays Field, then attended an opening banquet for the teams Monday evening.
Bernatow was impressed with Hays Field, where his team will be playing today at 11 a.m. against the University of Texas at Brownsville. A couple interesting notes: 1) Brownsville had the second-longest trip to Lubbock, even though they’re in the same state, and 2) they have a pitcher from Brandon, Chris Raley.
“The facility at the field is awesome, top-notch,” he said. “They have a field turf infield, and the outfield is like a fairway.”
At the banquet, the organizers praised all the teams for making it this far, saying that “209 teams started the season, and only 46 are left. You are part of the elite,” according to Bernatow. “It was awesome for our kids to here that and be a part of this.”
Also at the banquet, the Champions of Character selection for each team was honored. MMC’s honoree was senior pitcher Trey Krier, the GPAC Pitcher of the Year. He will start today’s game against UT-Brownsville.
If you want to read more on the tournament, check out my story and preview capsules, as well as these preview capsules from the UT-Brownsville website. Also, here is a look at the host team from the newspaper in Lubbock.