Feb. 14, 2018
An outfielder and right-handed pitcher on the Irish baseball team, junior Matt Vierling will provide fans with a behind-the-scenes look at the program throughout the 2018 season. Vierling, who was drafted in the 30thround of the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, led the Irish in batting average in 2017 en route to earning All-ACC honors.
It was the top of the 11th inning, no outs and LSU’s Jake Fraley was at the plate. I was playing right field at Frank Eck Stadium, eagerly waiting for a ball to be hit at me, so that I could do my part to aid our team to a victory. As the pitch was thrown, I saw a heavy hack by the lefty Fraley, followed by a ball hit sky-high in the air.
The ball was hit over my head, so as soon as I got a glimpse of the ball I was on a dead sprint to go and get it. As I got closer and closer to the fence, I recognized that the only shot I had at the ball was to try and rob it. As I went up, I quickly realized that I had timed my jump incorrectly. As a result, the baseball landed maybe a foot beyond the right field fence.
We lost 1-0 in 11 innings. That day, May 11, 2016, was the last time we played LSU and, needless to say, it left a salty taste in our mouths.
That was during my freshman year at Notre Dame. A majority of people on that team have either graduated or gotten drafted. But I know the guys on our team that recall that two-game series remember how close we came to winning that game.
Almost two years removed from that loss, our team has a new look now. There are a lot of new faces mixed with veteran returners who round out the locker room. And being a student-athlete, we see everyone on our team almost every single day. We’re with each other for hours each day, through practices, in classes, during lifts and runs, and most of us live with each other. I can sense my teammates’ excitement for the LSU series. I can see it in their eyes.
With all the hard work and preparation we put ourselves through this offseason, we are more than ready to get going. With the unknown of a new season, this group will make for an exciting next four to five months. And I’ve got to say, I’m looking forward to it.
Ever since our schedule came out for the 2018 season, we have been eyeing down this series. Yes, it’s opening weekend and we get to play in a great venue down in Baton Rouge. But most of all, we finally get to play some real baseball.
A long year of preparation has been leading up to this moment. The long days of the fall that were filled with tough lifts, exhausting runs, and scrimmages are over. Loftus ball, as we like to call it (our scrimmages in our indoor facility), has come to a close.
Given the circumstances of our first series, it’s not hard to get jacked up for it. Come Friday, it finally will be time to go out and compete with what’s in front of us. Be assured: We’re excited and we’ll be ready.