By Joel Weckerly, Sports Editor
The baseball team opens its 2004 season on the road this weekend with a pair of doubleheaders against St. Edward’s and St. Mary’s.
The No. 6 nationally-ranked Wildcats face St. Edward’s Saturday in Austin before meeting St. Mary’s Sunday in San Antonio.
“The guys are ready to start the season,” said ACU coach Britt Bonneau, who last coached a game in May at the Division II College World Series in Montgomery, Ala. “They’re tired of practicing; they’re tired of scrimmaging each other.”
The Wildcats will display a mix of fresh faces on the diamond this weekend-14 junior college transfers and three freshmen, to be exact.
According to Bonneau, one of those new players-junior left-handed pitcher Kerry Don Hall-will start Saturday’s first game against St. Edward’s. Either sophomore Zach Harris (1-0, 5.00 ERA in 2003) or senior Aaron Lawler (9-4, 3.61 ERA) should start the second game.
Bonneau said sophomore Ben Brockman (1-3, 4.70 ERA) and junior transfer Cassidy Coffman will start the first and second games, respectively, of Sunday’s doubleheader.
St. Edward’s finished 25-31 last season-including a 14-15 mark at home-under first-year coach Jeremy Farber. The Hilltoppers’ returning leading hitter is senior first baseman Josh Hamilton, who hit .383 with 65 RBI and 12 home runs in ’03. Their returning leading pitcher is senior right-hander Michael Laniak, who was 2-2 with a 5.53 ERA last season.
St. Mary’s-a team that won the Division II title in 2001-is ranked No. 25 by Collegiate Baseball magazine this year.
“They’re always a good power team with good pitching,” Bonneau said. “These are all regional games this weekend, so we’re acting as if they’re as important as conference games.
Saturday’s doubleheader starts at noon, while Sunday’s begins at 1 p.m.