Jan 30, 2013, 3:55 PM EDT
With temperatures in South Bend on Friday approaching 20 degrees and a blanket of snow extending across campus, the Irish baseball squad was satisfied to hold its first practice in the climate-controlled confines of the Loftus Indoor Sports Complex.
The Irish began their team preparations for the 2013 season with hitters taking live batting practice inside Loftus. In addition to the use of Loftus, Notre Dame has access to its own indoor batting cages in Frank Eck Stadium. If the South Bend winter obliges to melt snow on the football practice fields, the Irish hope to work in some outfield practice as well.
“Obviously it would be nice if we could go outside and scrimmage, but we do as much as we can in here,” junior pitcher Adam Norton said. “The only difference is that outfielders can’t shag flyballs. We take live at-bats off of pitchers, and pitchers are able to get proper work in.”
Notre Dame opens its season on February 16 with a doubleheader at the Snowbird Tournament in Sarasota, Fla. against Florida Gulf Coast and Ohio State. The Irish look to build on a 31-27 record from the 2012 season, which ended with two losses to BIG EAST champion St. John’s in the conference tournament.
With a young roster maturing in Coach Mik Aoki’s third season, the 2013 season brings increased expectations as the BIG EAST coaches recently picked the Irish to finish third in the 11-team conference.
“It’s nice to see ourselves move up in the preseason rankings, but at the end of the day, we know it doesn’t matter,” senior team co-captain and outfielder Charlie Markson said. “We think we can win it, we know we can win it, and we expect ourselves to go out there and play like we can win it.”
Markson and senior second baseman Frank DeSico offer veteran leadership as co-captains of the Irish squad. Both were starters that provided steady presences in the lineup as Markson hit for a .303 average while DeSico batted .302.
“When I was named captain, I was picked for a reason, so my goal is to try and not change the way I act,” Markson said.
“The key for Frank and I is to maintain the way we’ve been for three years because that’s why we are where we are. We will try to keep the team upbeat and focused because it’s really easy to get cabin fever practicing inside.”
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