Gopher baseball continues emotional time, playing for coach in hospice
When the Golden Gopher baseball team takes the field today in the Big Ten Tournament, it will have extra inspiration. Picked to finish in the lower half of the Big Ten in the preseason poll, Minnesota went out and won the regular season title, drawing motivation from the fight pitching coach Todd Oakes has been going through. Oakes has been with the program for 18 seasons. The Spring Grove native, however, has fought leukemia for the past four years, twice beating it into remission. But, a third occurrence has put Oakes into hospice care, where he’s resting….and watching. He watched on TV as his team won the trophy last Friday, tears running down his cheeks. Matt Fiedler is his best pitcher and says it was a “super, emotional week.”
Fiedler says they wanted to pull through for their pitching coach and they feel good about doing that. Fiedler and his teammates presented Oakes with the trophy – in person – on Sunday. Fiedler says Oakes cracked a few jokes and smiled a lot during the visit.
Fiedler, an Eagan native, says it meant a lot to be able to see Oakes prior to the postseason tourney.
Today, the Gophers open the tourney in Omaha against Iowa at 5 o’clock.