ACU will open its 2017 season this weekend against Michigan State with a four-game set over three days at Crutcher Scott Field.
The Wildcats struggled last year, placing 12th in the Southland conference going 8-21 in conference and 16-37 overall, but in the offseason, the Wildcats bolstered their team with 15 freshman and a couple of transfers, including graduate students. Greg Evans was also hired during the offseason after the departure of assistant coach Brandon Stover to pursue other opportunities.
On the other side, Michigan State had one of the best seasons in the school’s history, winning 36 games, which was tied for the fourth most in the school’s history. Its overall record finished at 36-20 after a loss in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament to eventual Big Ten champions Ohio State.
The team also got some news as star infielder Russell Crippen was recognized as a second team preseason all-Southland Conference player at first base, where he played 13 games last year. Crippen also played 13 games at second base, 10 at third base, eight in right field and four as designated hitter.
Crippen led the team in batting average last season, hitting .306 with three home runs and 19 RBIs.
When asked about the plans for the season, Crippen said although last season did not go as well as they had planned, they hope to start off the season well with this series.
“We are all really looking forward to our opening weekend against Michigan State,” Crippen said. “We have been working hard all off season to get prepared for not just Michigan State, but this whole year. Last year was nothing close to successful and as a team we have set goals and are doing our best to change the culture of ACU baseball.”
Crippen also said even though Michigan State is a big name, they are doing their best to keep their heads on straight and look at the series just like any other.
“We are excited to host such a big team early in the year,” said Crippen “However, we don’t want to let their name get the best of our emotions. We are trying to look at every game the same, no matter if we are playing an SEC, BIG10, PAC12 or our Southland conference games. We want to play our best baseball every game. We believe that as a team, if we play with the same energy and passion every game we will have a successful season.”
The series will get started Friday at 4 p.m., followed by a 1 p.m. Saturday doubleheader and then an 11 a.m. single game Sunday.