Challenges stunt baseball’s non-traditional season

By Taylor Viles – Sports Editor

Junior Matt Motyka sprints home during Lasell’s first scrimmage of the season.
Photo by Taylor Viles.

This fall has been anything but ideal for Lasell’s baseball team. From the beginning of the semester, head coach Bill Uberti could tell he was going to have to work harder than usual to groom his players for a competitive spring season.

Usually, the team’s non-traditional season begins in mid-September, but this year, they didn’t start practicing until October 3. Usually, Uberti holds intense weight room sessions for his team to build muscle. He monitors them closely during these workouts. Since current COVID-19 restrictions only allow a certain number of people in the weight room for 45 minutes at a time, Uberti is unable to keep an eye on his players.

Another obstacle Coach Uberti had to work with was the teams’ home for the fall. In previous years, they held scrimmages and tryouts at Brandeis University in Waltham. But with that diamond not available to them this fall, the team had to scout out a new location to practice at. They settled on Albemarle Field, on the grounds of the F.A. Day Middle School in Newton.

Finding Albemarle Field was a victory in itself, because it gave the team the option to organize scrimmages. For first-year players, it allowed them to feel some sort of normalcy.

Using the field came at a price though, adding another challenge for the Head Coach. “We only have a two-hour time block [at Albemarle.] If we’re at Brandeis… we’re going to get there, for an hour we’re going to hit batting practice, we’re going to take infield and outfield, then we’re going to scrimmage for two or three hours,” said Uberti. “With our dynamic at Albemarle, we have to just show up and go. It definitely puts our hitters at a little bit of a disadvantage.”

Contrary to his Head Coach, junior infielder/catcher Matt Motyka says the change of venue hasn’t affected his preparation this fall. “It is just like playing an away game; get ready and play baseball,” he says.

The possibility of a positive COVID-19 test also adds to the unpredictability of this fall. According to Uberti, no one on the baseball team has tested positive as of November 18, “[but] we did have seven guys that were in quarantine because they were in contact with somebody. Now they’ve all tested negative.” Uberti says all his players are now out of quarantine.

Director of Athletics Kristy Walter says in general, the athletic department was becoming nervous with the state’s infection numbers rising as well as an increasing number of students who were in contact with someone who tested positive. “We did have some people that had been in contact, either direct contact or indirect contact,” she said. “That number was getting bigger on campus…We thought it was the safest thing to do to just pull it back a little bit.”

The quarantine situation the baseball team faced, as well as a late October snowstorm that descended on the northeast, stunted the team’s fall plans. This included an intrasquad scrimmage series, an idea Uberti had gotten from the Vanderbilt University baseball team. The plan was for half the team to play the other half in a best-of-seven series. This would create both a competitive atmosphere and help the coaching staff watch the young players to better their sense of their place on the roster. The team was in the middle of the second game of the series when they had to put it on pause.

They were never able to continue it, but with the little time Uberti spent watching the series, he was able to make some conclusions. “I was very happy with our team, both on the mound and offensively,” he said. “I think it’ll be one of the better teams we’ve ever had here.”

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