Youth proves key to success for ISU Club Baseball team


Iowa State’s Aaron Hinnah attempts to score against South Dakota State. Iowa State beat South Dakota State 8-7 on Saturday, April 9.

Emily Hejlik

Spring is in the air. This can only mean one thing — it’s baseball season.

“We are looking to complete a transformation process from old to the new,” said Aaron Hinnah, senior in psychology and president of the ISU Club Baseball team. “Last year we struggled with poor work ethic and bad attitudes, but we have already begun taking the proper strides to be competitive right away this year.”

The squad will depend on its younger players to contribute immediately.

“We are probably one of the youngest teams in the [National Club Baseball Association] this year, and this is to our advantage,” Hinnah said. “With a fresh start, young talent and an interminable amount of energy, we will turn a lot of heads this season.

“The ISU Baseball Club is becoming one of the premier clubs here in Ames, and we will be putting on a show at Cap Timm [Field] this year.”

The NCBA is a national athletic association, like the NCAA for college athletes. A “club” team is the same as a Division I varsity sport, except the baseball team is not funded through the athletic department.

Club teams form in two ways — one is lack of funding to field a team or due to the Title IX restrictions, as was the case with Iowa State. The other way to form a club is schools that have a varsity team who choose to field a second team, such as the University of Iowa.

The Cyclones will be returning their entire outfield along with four of six starting pitchers. Aaron Ruff, senior in accounting, will set the tempo at leadoff with a batting average higher than .500.

“I am excited to get outside and play baseball in the nice weather we’ve had so early on and playing with so many new players this year,” said Ruff, the second baseman.

South Dakota will prove to be the team’s first test this coming weekend with two games Saturday and two Sunday. Next weekend are the first home games of the season against in-state rival Iowa. Iowa State will take the field at 12:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.

“Our conference, the Mid-America-North Conference, consists of Iowa, South Dakota, UNI and Minnesota State-Mankato,” Ruff said. “If you win your conference, you qualify for a regional against another conference winner and if you win that, you qualify for the club world series.”

New additions to the crew are Daniel Clements, Dillan Dwyer, Adam Fichter, Austin Fichter, Mitch Gerber, Dalton Hauer, Josh Hetzler, Spencer Maroo, Kyle Martin, Cody Rickard, Adam Schmidt, Kyle Tegeler, Kyle Tjossem and Nick Wells.

Tjossem, freshman in kinesiology and health and shortstop, joined the team for the love of the game.

“I love baseball and couldn’t stay away, so I joined the club this past fall,” Tjossem said.

Chemistry, along with a surplus of young talent, should help the Cyclones this year.

“I think that for what I have seen being new to the team that our team chemistry can help us out throughout the season,” Tjossem said. “Meeting all the new guys and being able to become good friends and have chemistry so fast is cool and I think that that will help us out when the games get tougher and tougher.”

Preparation in more ways than one also will be a key to success.

“Before a game, I normally listen to a playlist that I have made for games,” Tjossem said. “In baseball you don’t want to overthink anything, so I like to warm up, play loose and have fun and compete as hard as I can with my teammates.”