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Jeff Kolpack, Published February 16 2012

Colwells, Bison ready to start season

FARGO – The maintenance folks at the Bison Sports Arena are the last ones to lock the place up at night and the hours can get quite late. Especially if the Colwell brothers are taking batting practice.

The North Dakota State baseball players are junkies of the sport, sometimes hitting inside the BSA cages when the sun has long been down. That can get upwards to 11 p.m. or a bit later.

“They’re really, really understanding,” Nick Colwell said of the BSA staff.

The Bison open their season tonight with the first of a three-game series at the University of Arizona.

Two of the staples in the Bison lineup learned to hit a baseball on a softball field across the street from their house in Shoreview, Minn. Sophomore Tim Colwell hit .333 with eight doubles last year and senior Nick Colwell hit .279 with 24 runs batted in.

They’re exactly the recruiting footprint that head coach Tod Brown annually looks for in players: tough, hard-working kids generally from the Midwest.

“These guys are baseball rats,” Brown said, “and to be honest, it has spread throughout our team to where they’re bringing guys in with them. It’s infectious to our team.”

Brown said the kids have to be told to leave once in a while. They also have taken swings early in the morning.

It probably has a lot to do with their upbringing in a baseball family. Father John Colwell played at St. Mary’s (Minn.). Older brother Joe played at St. Thomas (Minn.).

“We grew up around baseball,” Tim said. “It was just the way of life.”

That included a mini-baseball academy in the garage. The two softball fields across the street with 300-foot fences got constant use.

“Dad would take us across the street and we would hit as long as we wanted to,” Nick said.

Nick had a goal of playing Division I baseball, but there were no options coming out of high school, so he enrolled at Iowa Central Community College. He hit .387, his team went to the Division II junior college World Series and he signed at NDSU.

The Bison began following Tim after his junior year in high school. He hit .554 as a senior at Irondale High School.

They are among seven position starters returning for NDSU, which went 22-32 last year but 15-12 in the Summit League. The third-place finish was its best yet in the conference.

“It’s worked out nicely for both of us,” Nick said. “He’s someone I can always call to hit whenever I want and he’s always calling me to come hit.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia