Tuesday, March 22, 2011

UIS baseball hosts first-ever home game

The University of Illinois Springfield baseball team hosted their first-ever home game against Wisconsin-Parkside on Sunday, March 20, 2011 at Chatham Community Park. Baseball, the newest sport on campus, was added as part of an expansion into NCAA Division II athletics.

Head Baseball Coach Brian Grunzke has worked hard preparing the team for the inaugural season. He says after spending the first four weeks of the season on the road it was nice to finally play at home.

“It was great for our guys. I think we had a lot of parents and fans support. I think that shows a lot of people that they’re interested in the baseball program here,” said Grunzke.

The team has played 13 games so far this season, with an overall 2-11 record. Grunzke says with 24 freshman on the team he knew the season could be a challenge, but he’s proud of his players.

“You’re going to have some days where you’re not going to play as well as you hoped to, but it’s been a learning experience every day,” he said.

For baseball fans, it’s a new era having NCAA Division II baseball in the Springfield area for the first time.

“We’ve all been looking forward to this for quite a while. Not only people on campus, but people in Springfield too,” said UIS Chancellor Harry Berman.

Community member Phil Coady started to follow the team after they won their first game ever against Alcorn State University in Mississippi. Coady hopes more people will come to UIS baseball games and help support the Prairie Stars.

“I think the people of Springfield need to get out and see what UIS has to offer in other sports, along with baseball,” said Coady.

The Prairie Stars will play their next home game on Saturday, March 26 in a doubleheader against Indianapolis. The game will be played at Chamberlain Park in Springfield, but the normal home for the Prairie Stars will remain the field at Chatham Community Park.

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