Sports

Tensions high between CSC and Husson

In professional sports, rivalries make for some of the most interesting and intense playing and viewing experiences. There are the Red Sox and Yankees,  Lakers and Celtics and the Vikings and Packers.
And while countless professionals play the game for money or fame, most college athletes play for respect and for the love of the game, making some college rivalries even more intense than the professional ones.
At Castleton State College, one of the most intense rivalries is ready to start up again as the Spartan baseball team prepares to begin its North Eastern Athletic Conference East play facing its arch nemesis,  Husson University.
Castleton and Husson have butted heads in the conference playoffs for much of the past decade. In fact, you have to go back to 2004 to find the last time one team didn’t eliminate the other from conference play.
The teams have even met each other in the championship game in each of the past four seasons, splitting  those championships at two each, with Husson taking last season’s title.
“I think that we have guys returning from last year that are hungry to win because last year ended on such a bad note,” said Ryan Zielinski, the 2010 NEAC Rookie of the Year. “We were picked to defend our title and failed to do so, a lot of us have a chip on our shoulder.”
That means there will be a lot of hungry Spartans with 18 players returning from last season’s team. Highlighting the returners are Zielinski, who slugged .451 and drove in 35 runs, David Brandt, who hit .292 and scored 35 runs, and Zak Mayo, who hit .323 and drove in 20. Tyler Erickson also returns to lead the pitching staff after going 5-3 with a 3.52 ERA last season.
Cameron Curler, a junior, says that the team’s chemistry will hopefully help them get off to a strong start this season.
“There’s a strong level of comfort on the field due to our large number of returning players,” he said. “It’s too early to say anything for certain, but at this point, I have to say that everyone feels pretty good about the upcoming season.”
While the Spartans don’t begin conference play for another week, the team has already played four games in Texas. The team went 0-4 on the trip, but Zielinski said that the team played well together.
“I have a really good feeling about our team so far this year, a lot of chemistry on the team early on and after our first four games in Texas,” he said. “It was the best we’ve played at the beginning of the season in the three years I’ve been here.”
Castleton’s first crack at redemption against Husson comes on April 13 when the team hosts a pair of back-to-back double headers against the Eagles.
“We love to hate Husson, and they love to hate us,” Curler said. “The reason they’re so competitive is because they play so hard.”
Zielinski agreed with Curler about Husson’s intensity.
“The Castleton and Husson rivalry is very interesting, and over the past few years, it has gotten heated on multiple occasions,” Zielinski said. “Those games mean more to both teams because, the past few years, every game we played them it meant home field for the playoffs.”