Ahead of the 2017 season baseball has been picked to finish 12th in both the Southland Conference Coaches’ poll and the Sports Information Director’s ballots. The pick is a one spot difference from last year, when ACU was picked 11th by both polls, and finished 12th, only above Incarnate Word, who is the only team below ACU this season.
Coach Britt Bonneau said that last season didn’t go as well as planned, but he hopes to build on last year’s young team.
“Obviously losing 22 games isn’t ideal in any situation,” Bonneau said. “And this year we have a lot of young players who we will be trying to find roles for: who will be pitching and who is starting, stuff like that. And we need to give guys experience, but it was nice that a lot of the freshman last year did get experience.”
The 2017 season starts off with a bang, as reigning Big Ten semi-finalist Michigan State visits Crutcher Scott field. The season doesn’t get much easier after that, playing some of the top teams in the nation in the last year of transitioning to Div. 1, including TCU, SFA, Creighton, Kansas State, Oregon State, and Dallas Baptist.
Bonneau said one of the top priorities this season was defense, and that was one of the main reasons they hired Greg Evans in the summer.
“Evans is really going to help our defense,” said Bonneau. “He’s doing something that needs to be done on this team, and I think it’ll be a thrill to have him help the team this year. I feel like our infield will improve drastically with his help, once we find everyone’s place.”
Even with a new coach and a tough schedule, players are still more excited than nervous, especially about the series against Michigan State.
“We are definitely excited,” said Mark Pearson, sophomore shortstop. “We know they’ll have a good team, but every team in college is good so we aren’t phased by that. We’ve worked really hard all off-season and are just excited to start playing games!
The season opener against Michigan State starts at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17 at Crutcher Scott Field.