Club baseball’s spring season put in play
Published: Friday, April 6, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
With spring comes baseball. And for members of the DePaul club baseball team, it means the opportunity to strive as college athletes playing the sport they love.
Ask Kevin Crittenden, right fielder and current team president of the DePaul “nine.” Crittenden, a transfer student from UIC, wanted to continue his playing career while giving those in similar positions the opportunity to play in a fun and competitive environment. Fortunately for everyone, he was able to help bring baseball back to DePaul. The process was tricky, but for members of the team who have been there from the beginning, it was well worth it.
Having a club team that plays and practices off campus is a commitment, which is, apparently, no obstacle for these DePaul students. The Blue Demons practice at the indoor BASH Sports Academy on Fletcher, west of campus, where the team commutes every week for night practice. BASH has been the Blue Demons’ practice facility since their first season in 2011.
“We’re a new club, and we’ve been around a year and half,” said Crittenden. “The first year we had 18-20 guys try out.”
The team held open tryouts last September at Grant Park and immediately held the first practice the following week.
DePaul’s club baseball team came into existence in January 2011, playing their home games at nearby Northeastern Illinois University. Their inaugural season featured seven games, with the Blue Demons cruising to a 6-1 record. When asked about DePaul’s level of talent, Crittenden spoke fondly of his teammates.
“All of our guys played high school ball, some even college. We have a guy named Cameron Heider, who tried out for Arizona State, and we have a guy named Alex Perez, who played for Western Illinois, so we have a couple who played at the college level,” said Crittenden. “Overall, we’re like an NCAA DII team.”
DePaul’s schedule features familiar names like Columbia College, Loyola, NIU and SIU, who all field club teams. The Blue Demons also have a fall portion to their schedule in the off-season, where they depart for tournaments. This past year they traveled to Carbondale for the “Saluki Slugfest,” a 14-team non – conference tournament.
“We’ve traveled everywhere this past year, Madison, UW Milwaukee, SIU,” said Crittenden.
The team plays all spring in hopes of building its national credibility. This past summer, the team was accepted into the NCBA, the National Club Baseball Association. This is a league that features club teams at most major universities throughout the country.
“Because we’re new, we have to start at the DII level, but now that we’re in District 5, we’re in the same conference as NIU, Columbia, Loyola and Saginaw Valley,” said Crittenden.
The Blue Demons are coming off a couple recent losses at Loyola, but look to bounce back next week when they travel to Northern Illinois. Crittenden has no doubt the Blue Demons will finish strong in the conference.
“We’re better now than last year, and I don’t see any reason why we can’t be great years down the line,” said Crittenden. “The future looks bright.”
The DePaul club baseball team plays its next home game April 21 against Saginaw Valley. That game is at 1 p.m. at Northeastern Illinois University.