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GW Baseball Plays Ball Despite Icy Conditions

Through multiple snowstorms and historic cold, the George Washington University baseball team has endured, practicing and playing on its home turf in Arlington’s Barcroft Park.

Because Tucker Field at Barcroft Park is artificial turf, with the exception of the pitching mound, batter’s box and bullpen, the team has been able to practice outdoors most days, and has already played two home games; a win and a loss against the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Many youth baseball players remember especially cold days as especially painful, with balls hit off the end of the bat resulting in hands stinging with pain for several minutes. But for serious college athletes, the cold is roundly ignored.

“It’s all a mental thing,” graduate student and fifth-year pitcher Craig LeJeune said in a phone interview today. “We’ve just got to wear a lot more shirts and undershirts. Once you get out there and warm up, you just go out there and play like it’s any other day.”

The Colonials’ third game is today at 2:30 p.m. against Georgetown University, at Barcroft Park. In between their two season-opening games against NJIT, the Colonials have had three games cancelled and two, against Georgetown and the University of Virginia, postponed.

The cancelled games have not meant that the Colonials have gotten a break. They have had some indoor practices, but most of their work has been outdoors, including when the field is still covered in snow.

“The biggest thing we like to do is keep it high-energy and high-tempo so the cold doesn’t really affect us,” assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Dave Lorber said. “If you’re doing the right things and running an efficient practice, the cold is not something you’re even thinking about.”

After hosting Georgetown tomorrow, Tucker Field will be the site of a three-game series against Niagara University this weekend. The Colonials start play against Atlantic 10 opponents March 20 with a trio of games against St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

LeJeune said this year’s goal is to qualify for the A-10 tournament, played at Barcroft Park for the first time May 20-24.

“We want to make that [tournament] and defend the Tuck,” he said.

By the time that tournament rolls around, the arctic temperatures of this month will be a distant memory. Right now, though, LeJeune and his teammates are more concerned with beating Georgetown — and keeping warm.

“When it’s this cold,” LeJeune said, “your fingertips are frozen the whole game.”

It doesn’t hurt that the players have a bit more insulation on their face during this year’s polar vortex. Last year, according to the Washington Post, the head coach had a rule dictating players must be clean-shaven. This year, no one on the team has been allowed to shave since the offseason.

Lorber said it’s important the team stay loose, but no one needs an extra push to practice during a polar vortex.

“I think our guys come with the right mentality — that they want to be at practice whether it’s indoors, outside, on top of a skyscraper, wherever we are,” he said. “We only control what we can control, and that’s our attitude and the effort for the day.”

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