After playing their last preseason game Sunday the Predators are counting the hours and minutes until the season opener Saturday night at 7 at the Bridgestone Arena against Anaheim. Team captain Shea Weber decided the players needed some time together off of the ice before the frenzy of the regular season begins.
Tuesday afternoon the Predators played a softball game and then spent a couple of hours taking batting practice with baseballs. “We wanted to do something as a team and we thought this might be a good way to spend some time together,” said Predators forward Steve Sullivan. “We had a great time. We appreciate Lipscomb allowing us to play here.”
Sullivan and his softball teammates planned to have an even great time later in the evening. Weber and his teammates had to spring for dinner after losing the nine-inning softball game.
The idea for the softball game started last month when Predators’ coach Barry Trotz came to campus to talk with the Jim Wood Golden Bison group. After speaking Trotz spent some time touring Lipscomb’s athletic facilities.
Lipscomb athletic director Philip Hutcheson offered the use of the facilities to Trotz for a Predators’ activity. A week ago Brian Ryman, director of operations, got the call to have the field ready.
“It was an off day for us so they could spend as much time here as they wanted,” Lipscomb baseball coach Jeff Forehand said. “They had a big time.
“Some of our players watched. They had a chance to meet with some of the players. It was good for them to talk with professional athletes.”
The game was closed to the public. Coaches also were not allowed. The few spectators that were at the field saw a wide range of baseball skills on display. Cody Franson impressed his teammates by blasting a couple of home runs over the left field fence that hit the Bisons hitting facility. Forward J.P. Dumont, who plays in a league in the summer, helped provide equipment for the players.
“Some of them were hitting the ball pretty good,” Forehand said. “Hockey players are such good athletes that some of them probably could be good baseball players with some training. But a couple of them were a little bit off.”
Caleb Joseph, a former Bisons catcher now playing in the Baltimore Orioles farm system, threw batting practice for the Predators. Joseph and former Bisons pitcher Rex Brothers, playing in the Colorado Rockies minor league system, will be reunited Wednesday when they travel to Scottsdale where they will both play for the Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League.
Forehand had each of the Predators sign a Lipscomb baseball cap. He plans to place it in the trophy case. Ryman was presented with one of forward Wade Belak’s sticks which was signed by the team.
“A lot of our players are big Predators fans,” Forehand said. “Hopefully, we will get the chance to see them some this season. “They got to enjoy a beautiful day. It was a good outlet for them.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.