Baseball: Alexandria College set to kick off inaugural season
The Alexandria Legends are set to begin its first baseball season this year and aims to have a big impact on the field and in the community.
ALEXANDRIA - Spring is just around the corner, and for Alexandria College, that means its inaugural baseball season is nearly here.
"We're excited; we've been counting down the days," Freshman catcher Jack Theisen said. "The energy has picked up in the last couple of weeks, and it's been fun."
Back in the summer of 2021 , baseball was one of the sports that the college announced they were adding by 2024, along with men's soccer, women's soccer, and volleyball.
The Legends, who are led by head coach Jason Fischer, are a National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association Division III team in Region 13 (the North Plains Region) and play in the Minnesota Collegiate Atheltic Conference.
Fischer, who is originally from Fergus Falls, has plenty of experience coach in the MCAC prior to coming to Alexandria. Fischer was the head coach of the St. Cloud Technical and Community College Cyclones, an MCAC member, and amassed a 295-85 record over 10 seasons coaching the Cyclones and took the team to the 2021 NCJAA DIII World Series a couple of months prior to being hired on as the head coach of the Legends.
He's helped over 70 players advance to a four-year college baseball team and is excited to start things up with the Legends.
"I'm excited to begin this season for a number of reasons," Fischer said. "This has all been a year and a half in the works. I got hired in June 2021, and we started practicing in the fall and played scrimmages, but we haven't played any real games yet. It's been a long time coming, and we have a really good group of guys. There's a lot of talent; they are very responsible, very mature, and have very few issues when it comes to discipline and things like that."
In the search for players, the Legends have signed Alexandria high school alum Parker Jendro (freshman, pitcher) and Ashby alums Hunter Norby (freshman, outfielder/pitcher) and Torin Olson (freshman, utility), who are college freshmen now. A full roster can be found on the team's website.
"I like being close to home," Jendro said. "I like the people here. I'm just excited to be playing baseball again."
Most of the team's players come from Minnesota, but the college also has players from North Dakota, Nebraska, Florida, and Alaska.
In the year and a half between now and June 2021, Fischer has spent time on the road building up the program's numbers along with finding a place to practice.
The Legends have been practicing inside the sports complex at Northstar Christian Academy.
"We started from scratch, and now we're up to 33 players," Fischer said. "We also had to get equipment and uniforms. Alexandria Technical and Community College is relatively new to athletics, so it's also sort of about orientating the powers at be on what college athletics is. I'm the only one on campus who came in with college coaching experience. There's been a pretty big learning curve for, you know, a lot of different people. So there's a lot more that goes into than just being a baseball coach."
While the program is navigating the learning curve, Fischer is excited about the program's future in the area and believes that the program can succeed in the area.
Fischer said that one of the goals of the program is to be good representatives in the community.
"We want to be good stewards in the community, we want to take care of Knute [Nelson Memorial Park], and we want to make sure that our guys are being positive in the community," Fischer said. "We want to be sure that we're responsible in the community."
In his time working for the college, Fischer has enjoyed his experience working with the Alexandria area community.
"I came from St. Cloud. In St. Cloud, St. Cloud State is king, followed by St. John's, then Saint Ben's, and then somewhere down the road is St. Cloud Technical and Community College," Fischer said. "Here, there's none of that. We're the only college in town, and we're treated as a pretty big deal. By and large, the community has been very supportive. I've worked closely with the high school coaches Judy Backhaus and the city when it comes to Knute. "They're all looking forward to seeing what sort of product we're going to put out there."
The Legends will play their home games at Knute Nelson Memorial Park, which is currently set to receive upgrades.
The park will feature a new scoreboard in the spring and a new infield turf installation between Aug. 1, 2023, and Oct. 31, 2023.
"I played at Knute Nelson prior to turf being put in (2008)," Fischer said. "Turf has a 10-year shelf life, and that turf's been there for a while. It shows; it's not completely safe. The new addition of brand new turf it's going to be key, if not for nothing else, for safety reasons. Knute is a really good venue; it just needs a lot of help. It needs a facelift. It's a process that's slowly moving forward."
Alexandria's first home game of the season is against Anoka-Ramsey College at 4 p.m. on April 8.
The Legends begin their season on March 1 against Minnesota North College-Hibbing at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis at 9:30 p.m.
In early these games, which includes a 12-game stand down in Florida from March 7-14, the team will be learning more about what they have.
"When you recruit, especially at the junior college level, you don't necessarily know what you're going to get," Fischer said. "You have an idea, but you don't necessarily know how it translates to college. Normally when you're at a two-year college, you turn over half your roster every single year. So you know what to expect from the guys that are coming back, but we don't have any of that. You just try to do the best that you can, knowing that you're probably not going to hit on every recruit. We hit on a lot more recruits than I had ever thought."
Fischer's confidence in the team isn't limited to one part of the game.
"We've got a lot of guys that can play," he said. "We're going to be deep at a lot of different spots. We're going to have guys that you know theoretically are third on the depth chart that could start on a lot of other schools in our conference. We've got arms, we're going to hit for power, we've got guys that can run, and we're going to play good defense. I fully expect that every aspect of the game is going to be pretty solid."
"I'd say we're a good offensive team," Theisen said. "We've got a lot of guys who can swing it well. Any lineup that we're going to throw out there, those nine guys are going to be able to swing it on any day. We also have some guys on the mound who can get it done."
The Legends' goals for the season aren't just to hang around; they want to be winners.
"When I took this job, I brought one of my assistants (Brent Pakkala) from St. Cloud with me, and from day one, our conversation has always been, there's no drop off from what we did at St. Cloud," Fischer said. "From day one, we want to be able to compete for a world series; that's the goal. If you don't have those kinds of goals, then what are you working towards? Are you going to be satisfied with being .500? I'm not. The first 14 games of our season will give us a good indicator of where we stand and how well we can potentially compete to go to a College World Series. We travel down to Florida and play 12 games down there against some teams that have routinely been in the College World Series from our division."
Alex Jinkins and Wes Johnson are also assistant coaches for the team.
Theisen, a St. Cloud native, describes the program as a "brotherhood."
"It's definitely a brotherhood," he said. "In a small town like this, you spend a lot of time with each other, you know, on the weekends on whatnot," Theisen said. "Most people can't go home during the weekends, and so we spend the weekends with each other, we have classes with each other, and obviously, we're here every day at practice. We love each other."
2023 SCHEDULE (subject to change, times are listed in CST) -
March 1 vs. Minnesota North College-Hibbing (at U.S Bank Stadium), 9:30 p.m.
March 2 at Minnesota North College-Hibbing (at U.S. Bank Stadium), Noon
March 7 vs. Minnesota North College-Itasca (in Orlando, FL), 3:15 p.m.
March 7 vs. Minnesota North College-Itasca (in Orlando, FL), 5:45 p.m.
March 8 at Owens Community College (in Orlando, FL) 8:45 a.m.
March 8 vs. Mount Union JV (in Orlando, FL), 12:15 p.m.
March 10 vs. Oakton Community College (in Orlando, FL), 8:45 a.m.
March 10 at Oakton Community College (in Orlando, FL), 11 a.m.
March 11 vs. Ancilla College (in Aubunrdanle, FL), 8 a.m.
March 11 vs. Canada Reds Academy (In Orlando, FL) Noon
March 13 vs. Hudson Valley Community College (in Orlando, FL), 3 p.m.
March 13 at SUNY Adirondack (in Florida), 3:15 p.m.
March 14 vs. Westchester Community College (in Winter Haven, FL) 8:30 a.m.
March 14 at Terriers Baseball (in Florida), Noon
March 23 at Minnesota Post Grad (in River Falls, WI), 2 p.m.
March 23 at Minnesota Post Grad (in River Falls, WI), 4 p.m.
March 25 vs. Minnesota North College-Hibbing (in Aurora, MN), 2:30 p.m.
March 25 vs. Minnesota North College-Hibbing (in Aurora, MN), 4:30 p.m.
March 26 at Minnesota North College-Mesabi Range, 10 a.m.
March 26 at Minnesota North College-Mesabi Range, Noon
April 5 at SJU JV, 2 p.m.
April 5 at SJU JV, 4:30 p.m.
April 7 at Anoka-Ramsey College, 1:30 p.m.
April 7 at Anoka-Ramsey College, 4 p.m.
April 8 vs. Anoka-Ramsey College, 4 p.m.
April 12 vs. North Dakota State College of Science, 2 p.m.
April 12 vs. North Dakota State College of Science, 4:30 p.m.
April 15 at Central Lakes College-Brainerd, 1 p.m.April 15 at Central Lakes College-Brainerd, 3 p.m.
April 16 vs. Central Lakes College-Brainerd, 1 p.m.
April 17 vs. Central Lakes College-Brainerd, 3 p.m.
April 19 at North Dakota State College of Science, 2 p.m.
April 19 at North Dakota State College of Science, 4:30 p.m.
April 22 at Minnesota State Community and Technical College, 1:30 p.m.
April 22 at Minnesota State Community and Technical College, 4 p.m.
April 23 vs. Minnesota State Community and Technical College, 1:30 p.m.
April 24 vs. Minnesota State Community and Technical College, 4 p.m.
April 26 at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, 2 p.m.
April 26 at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, 4 p.m.
April 29 vs. Ridgewater College, 1:30 p.m.
April 29 vs. Ridgewater College, 4 p.m.
April 30 at Ridgewater College, 1 p.m.
April 30 at Ridgewater College, 3 p.m.
May 3 vs. Minnesota North College-Hibbing 2 p.m.
May 3 vs. Minnesota North College-Hibbing, 4:30 p.m.
May 6 vs. St. Cloud Technical and Community College, 1:30 p.m.
May 6 vs. St. Cloud Technical and Community College, 4 p.m.
May 7 at St. Cloud Technical and Community College, 1:30 p.m.
May 7 at St. Cloud Technical and Community College, 4 p.m.
May 9 vs. Minnesota Post Grad (in Carlos), 2 p.m.
May 9 vs. Minnesota Post Grad (in Carlos), 4 p.m.