MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) -With 72 games in 75 days the Mankato Moondogs are busy athletes!
These men come from colleges around the country to improve their craft and have a bit of fun while doing it.
“It’s a long season, we’re almost 20 games in so not even a fourth of the way there but it’s been fun so far and everybody is starting to get to know each other. As soon as we get everyone here, the comradery of the team, the team chemistry will hopefully build so it should be a fun summer,” Nick Novak, Moondogs infielder, said.
“As far as my message to them, every day I word it differently but at the end of the day it’s you guys need to find a way to enjoy yourselves when you’re at the ballpark. Can’t put pressure on yourself. This game is hard enough as it is and then you put pressure on yourself on top of that, it’s difficult to play up to your potential so just build good relationships with your teammates, learn from those guys as well as the coaches and more than anything just have fun,” Matt Wollenzin, Moondogs head coach, said.
“We know that we have 72 games so obviously while we’re here we’re just trying to make the best of it, trying to build relationships, obviously we want to play to the best of our ability but really we just want to have fun with each other and cherish the moments we have with each other because after this we won’t see each other hardly at all so while we’re here we’re just trying to make the best relationships that we can have,” Sky-Lar Culver, Moondogs infielder/outfielder, said.
The Dogs had a slow start to the season but have put the pedal down these last couple weeks and currently own a 7-3 record in their last 10 games.
“I think we just got used to playing with each other, it’s kind of weird playing with a new team at first and once we got comfortable we just starting playing the way we all should be playing,” Tanner Craig, Moondogs infielder, said.
“Not knocking on the personnel we had early but we were so short that it just had guys in positions that they didn’t have the opportunity to have as much success and that’s our job as coaches is to put them in positions to have success where they can not only feel comfortable but have the chance to do whatever they do best,” Wollenzin said.
“We started off kind of slow with a 0 and 4 start, kind of short on some guys but as we started to get some guys and we got some returners obviously from last year, they’ve contributed really well and as of late we’ve been playing pretty good baseball,” Culver said.
University of Evansville’s Tanner Craig is leading the Moondogs at the plate, his batting average sits around .360.
“I’m just trying to hit the ball hard, look for a pitch in a certain spot and put a good swing on it, really,” Craig said.
“He’s a cage rat, he’ll ask for early work, extra BP every single day and everybody’s different like that but I think he’s made big strides because of that work ethic that he’s shown so far,” Wollenzin said.
Sky–Lar Culver has also been dominant at the plate, averaging around .310, his approach is a bit different than his teammates though.
“Sky–Lar doesn’t, he doesn’t do much thinking about mechanics this, that. He just kind of goes up there, see ball, hit ball and I think that’s what makes him good. He never presses, he never gets nervous or feels any pressure, he just goes up there and tries to see the baseball early and see it for a long time,” Wollenzin said.
“I’m honestly just trying to have fun. I took that mindset actually this year at my school that I’m attending right now and summer ball so obviously at the end of the day this does matter but obviously it doesn’t so I’m just trying to have the best time that I can,” Culver said.
Although most of the men came into this team as strangers they likely won’t leave that way.
“I kind of have a knack for just trying to let kids when they get here, obviously we don’t know each other so with that being said it’s kind of awkward when we get here so I try to throw in an ice breaker here and there as soon as we get here and I’m pretty personal I guess at some times but I just want everybody to be able to enjoy themselves while they’re here,” Culver said.