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Slappin’ Pitches focused on fun

BY ETHAN SEBERT | APRIL 13, 2010 7:30 AM

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Dress well, play well.

That was the reason the players for Slappin’ Pitches, a men’s intramural softball team, wore ties and business casual attire to their game against the Brothers Izturis on April 8.

“We figured if we look good, we’d play good,” junior Jordan Besco said. “It didn’t work out.”

Despite the dapper dress, the Slappin’ Pitches lost, 18-13, falling to 0-2 on the season. However, the team’s unsuccessful start has not prevented the squad from having fun while working to improve.

The squad’s dress (which the players sported throughout the entire contest), as well as the team name, is indicative of the players’ attitude toward this year’s intramural softball season — an attitude dictated by fun.

“We’re out there to have a good time,” junior Rudy Dell said. “And that’s what we’re doing.”

The team formed from relationships stemming back to many of the players’ dorm days on the third floor of the Hillcrest Residence Hall. Several don’t get to see each other as much as they used to, so they use the games as a time to reconnect.

“It’s more of a time for us to get together and have fun,” junior Alex Moen said. “The consensus goal is to try to win but make sure you’re having fun.”

The remainder of the team is made up of juniors Andy Jacobs, Andrew Blessing, Dan Moffit, Ryan Roccaforte, Greg Walker, and Brad Volden. Sophomores Alex Seidenstricker, Tom Peacock, John Scully, and Zach McCauley round out the squad.

The group is a closely knit bunch of guys who know each other better by their nicknames than their actual names. But the team’s cohesion has yet to produce a victory on the diamond.

The players point to inexperience and playing dehydrated as the main roadblocks.

“We have a lot of guys that are not necessarily softball players,” Moen said.

In fact, a few of the Slappin’ Pitches players never played softball or baseball before joining the team. Two players even had to buy gloves for their first practice, just a week before the season started.

One factor helping the Slappin’ Pitches is having three former Division-I athletes on the club. Besco, Walker, and Moen used to play for various Hawkeye programs.

Besco ran track, Walker was a walk-on for the football team, and before Moen was slapping pitches on the softball diamond, he was slapping around golf balls for the Hawkeyes.

The three stopped playing for the Hawkeyes for various reasons but all regained their athletics niche in intramural softball.

“Being a D-I athlete is definitely a job,” Moen said. “But for intramurals, you’re doing it on your own time. You have more fun rather than care about the result.

“There’s no pressure,” Walker said. “If we happen to pull off a ‘W,’ Thursday night is just that much better.”

Another asset of the Slappin’ Pitches squad is the loyalty the players have to each other. Volden, the team captain, played in the April 8 game despite being hospitalized earlier in the day with kidney stones.

He said he wanted to help his team and have fun — a thought that serves as one of the reasons the players believe they are improving every game.

“It seems like our pitching has gotten better and our defense started off a little shaky, but it’s gotten better,” Volden said.

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