Days 1 & 2: Sheboygan, Wis. to Port Charlotte, Fla.
Athletics - posted on 3/14/2009Assistant director of sports information Chris Lindeke brings you daily coverage from Port Charlotte and Fort Myers, Fla., where the Lakeland baseball team will play 12 games in seven days between Sunday, March 15, and Saturday, March 21.
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Welcome to the official Lakeland College baseball team spring break trip blog! I hope to give you an insider's look at the Muskies' nine-day, 12-game stand in southwestern Florida.
We arrived at Charlotte High School for practice at 4:01 EST (right on schedule) following a 24 1/2-hour bus ride into the state. We made four stops along the way - Port Washington, Wis. (to pick up assistant coach Michael Bachar), Memphis, Ind., somewhere north of Atlanta in Georgia (not sure of a specific location - I was half asleep when we stopped) and Lake City, Fla.
The guys are ecstatic to be practicing outside, as was evident by the hoots and hollers as we arrived at the high school's beautiful athletic facilities. The weather is gorgeous and sunny with temperatures in the mid-80s. Junior pitcher Lee Chepil even remarked that he was "already sun-burned" moments after he hopped off the bus.
Ironically, the mascot of Charlotte High School is a Fighting Tarpon
, whose logo bears a striking resemblance to Lakeland's Muskie logo. Also, Lakeland wrestler Paul Hartt, who qualified for the NCAA Division III National Tournament as a senior at 197 pounds last year, is a graduate of Charlotte High and a native of Port Charlotte.
Players and coaches seem incredibly enthusiastic during the team's first outdoor practice of the season. After warming up, the outfielders took fly balls from Coach Bachar, the pitchers worked with head coach Chris Thousand and assistant coach Ed Michael, and assistant coach Matthew Andrews worked in the cages with the others. After taking full infield and outfield, the team took batting practice and played a short scrimmage to wrap up the night.
Fresh pizzas awaited the team when we returned, and players were told there would be bed checks at 10:30.
The bus ride down to Florida wasn't actually as bad as it may sound. Even though the coach bus was somewhat crowded, with 34 players, four coaches, two bus drivers, one athletic trainer, one student manager and yours truly making the trip, we found good ways to pass the time. Many slept, especially through the morning hours, while some watched the continuous stream of movies played on the monitors (I am told junior catcher Brad Chrudimsky was the main provider for many of the flicks). Others read magazines and did homework.
Our bus drivers, Ray and Mike, did a fantastic job. We made good time, and they had to drive through some rain in Georgia and Tennessee early on Saturday morning.
The team is scheduled to play a pair of games tomorrow in Port Charlotte. At 10 a.m., the Muskies take on No. 14 Wooster, followed by a 1 p.m. showdown with in-state rival Carthage. Check back later tomorrow afternoon for the latest.
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