Warming up to your own tune

Different varieties of music blaring for short periods of time would normally be heard coming from a disc jockey at a dance club. But if you were to attend a baseball or softball game on campus, you would hear a myriad of different short clips being played.

The Northern Kentucky University baseball and softball teams mirror any professional baseball team as each player gets the chance to pick their own song to be played when they approach the batter’s box or take the mound for the first time in the game.

When choosing a song, the players often select a song that pumps them up prior to stepping into the batter’s box, while others select songs that help them focus and relax.

“It’s definitely a mind set. I approach the plate with a killer instinct with a good song playing,” said Larry Pempek, who organizes the music for the baseball team. “I think others choose songs that put memories in their heads with that particular song, or they use them to get hyped up and focus at the task at hand.”

Pempek, who is in his fourth year with the Norse, said while he was searching for a song to use, he wanted to use one from the soundtrack to the movie “300”. After searching the internet, he found a quote from the movie and went from there.

“So when searching for a ‘300’ theme, I got ‘What is your profession?’ The song just fit what I was looking for, so I am using it,” Pempek said. “It has a hard rock beat with some of a rap bass, and a (great) quote from the movie.”

While Pempek uses music and a quote from one of his favorite movies, other players use current chart-topping songs. Samantha Del Vecchio, a junior catcher on the softball team, uses DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” as her walkup song.

“I chose it just because it has a lot of swag to it, and ba- sically is saying I win, point blank,” Del Vecchio said.

“It’s a little cocky but that’s what motivates me. Last year my song was ‘Turn My Swag On’ by Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em and I almost thought of using it this year too, but I changed it. They are similar though, and they exude confidence.”

Confidence is something every player is looking for no matter the situation in the game. The more confident the player is in their abilities, the better (they think) they will perform. And they have performed.

The 2009 season was the first year the softball team was afforded the opportunity to have walkup music and they improved their team batting average by .019 from the pre- vious season. Oddly enough, the Norse are currently hitting .291 as a team, which is the same batting average they had in 2009.

One may ask how a song can improve someone batting average. The answer is each individual has their ways of focusing on their upcoming at-bat, and if a certain song helps them channel their thoughts, then so be it.

Freshman pitcher Emily Schwaeble says you can’t think about previous at-bats and she uses her selection to aide her in doing so. Her choice was “It’s My Time” by Fabolous.

“I chose this song as it kind of speaks for itself. When it comes to sports, you can’t dwell on the past because it’s over and done with,” said Schwaeble, a Cincinnati native. “The future and what can be done is all that matters and when it’s your turn to make the play and make things happen. You have to get the job done for your team — lay it all on the line.”

While some players have hard-hitting, fast-paced rap or rock songs as their walkup, some players have chosen to travel the route of hilarity to loosen their spirits.

Gretchen Lorenz selected Michael Sembello’s “Maniac” to be played as she approaches each at-bat. For those of you not familiar with the tune, you’ll remember it was the signature song of the 1983 American romantic musical film, “Flashdance.”

Chase Stewart, the baseball team’s closing pitcher, is an intimidating figure as he toes the pitching rubber with a grimacing, scowling look on his face. If you think he uses a heavy metal song to be more intimidating, you would be wrong, but if you guessed “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus, you would be correct.

Attend any baseball game at the Bill Aker Baseball Complex and you will find people, including the opposing team, smiling and chuckling at the thought of 6-foot-6, 240 pound closer, warming up to the whine of “I hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and my cardigan.” Some might think Stewart selected what some would call a “girly” song for his warm-up, but as a freshman on the baseball team, he is at the mercy of the upperclassmen, who, as a rite of passage, get to choose the song they want the freshman to have.

Some selections this season include TLC’s “No Scrubs” for Stevie Gipson-Eberhardt, Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby One More Time” for Bradley Vanderglas and Celine Dion’s “All By Myself” for Patrick Hyde.

“It’s always been a tradition that the upperclassmen do. When I was at Ball State, you got to pick your song, but no matter what you picked, someone got to pick a funny one,” said Pempek, who transferred to NKU after spending one season at Ball State. “I went through it as a freshman, and I hope the tradition continues. It lightens the mood definitely, and makes the freshmen feel embarrassed I think…keeps them honest.”

Del Vecchio thinks it is funny that the baseball freshmen don’t get to choose their own songs, but doesn’t think it would work for the softball team.

“I think it is hilarious that the upper classmen choose frosh songs on the baseball team. That could get real funny,” Del Vecchio said. “I don’t think it is something we would do on our team, just because I don’t think it’s our style, but I’m totally all for the baseball team doing it.”

Del Vecchio also added a suggestion for the upperclassmen on the baseball team to use in future seasons.

“I haven’t heard any this year but I think they could get really creative and throw some Disney princess songs in there…that’d be fabulous.”

No matter how you think a person should focus in just before stepping into the batter’s box, you will find that both the baseball and softball team both have fun with their song selections and that ultimately is what is important here. If they feel like it helps them, then who are we to judge how they approach the game?

Story by Chad Hensley