Fall baseball season begins for Renegades

By Lindsey Woods

Columbia’s baseball team, the Renegades, has officially started its 2011–2012 fall season as of Sept. 9.

The team played against Northwestern University’s club team, which plays in a different conference than the Renegades, who play in Division II, District V South of the National Club Baseball Association. Northwestern plays in Division I, Great Lakes West conference.

“It was just an exhibition game, so we tried to get our new players some playing time,” said Northwestern’s team president, Daniel Walco. “We wanted to see how they would do for the fall.”

The Renegades have a similar strategy. This year, they are working with a mostly new roster, said Jon Bowman, one of the team’s co-presidents.

“It was our first game of the year, so the plan was just to get the kids out there,” Bowman said. “We want them to [gain] game experience so we can figure out what to work on for the next game.”

Darren Gabriel, the team’s other co-president, said this weekend’s double-header against DePaul University is going to be its toughest game of the season. It is also its first conference game of the season.

“We played DePaul a couple of times last year, and they’re expected to be one of the toughest teams in our conference,” Gabriel said. “We all respect DePaul because of [its] good sportsmanship.”

The Renegades have been holding practices twice a week since July and working out in the Fitness Center at the Residence Center 731 S. Plymouth Court. Gabriel said the team has a lot of infield talent this year but needs more work on offense.

“It’s harder to host an offensive practice than a defensive practice,” Gabriel said. “We need a lot of offensive work, but once everyone gets their swing down and shakes off the rust, we should be fine in that aspect.”

Gabriel explained that defensive practices are easier because the team needs minimal space to practice throwing. During offensive practices, they need more space to work on hitting.

The Renegades have had trouble finding a place for either kind of practice. Their usual Grant Park spot has been invaded by tents due to the Chicago Marathon, according to Bowman.

The team’s novelty makes it hard to tell what its season will look like this year, Bowman said. But however it turns out, everyone is excited to play.

“We’re going to see what our strengths and weaknesses are when we get out there on the field this season,” Bowman said. “We do have a lot of new talent and not very many returning players, but we [the players] do look great in practice.”

The Renegades’ double-header against DePaul University is on Oct. 15 at 1:30 p.m. at Northeastern’s field, 5500 N. St. Louis Ave. The next game, also against DePaul, is on Oct. 16 at 10 a.m.