The Ohio University baseball team opens the 2013 season on Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. (ET) against Belmont (game one) and Valparaiso (game two) at 4 p.m. in Nashville, Tenn. at E.S. Rose Park.
NOTING THE BOBCATS
- Rob Smith begins his first year as head coach, replacing Joe Carbone, who served on the bench for the past 24 years.
-Ohio returns six starters from last year's squad, which finished the year with a 28-29 record.
-The Bobcats were ranked in the Top 5 of the Mid-American Conference in 12 offensive categories and 11 pitching categories.
-Ohio finished the year ranked second in the MAC in team ERA 3.73.
-In 2012, Jake Madsen, Tyler Wells and Cody Gaertner all batted over .300 a year ago.
-Ohio lost all three of its starters from a year ago in the form of Jason Moulton, Brent Choban and Seth Streich.
-Ohio's 2013 schedule will feature six teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament and four conference champions from a year ago.
THE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Game One: Jake Miller (Ohio) vs. Cole Webb (Valpo)
Game Two: Marck Paliotto (Ohio) vs. Austin Coley (Belmont)
Valparaiso finished 2012 with a 35-25 record overall and a 22-8 mark in the Horizon League. The Crusaders took first place in both the regular season and Horizon League Tournament in Chicago before they made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 44 years. Spencer Mahoney led Valpo with a .348 batting average while Elliott Martin hit .301 with a team-leading 50 runs batted in. Andrew Bain finished the season with a team-high 83 hits. As a team, Valpo recorded a .290 team batting average last season and return its entire infield, catcher and one outfielder. The Crusaders, were picked as the preseason favorite to win the Horizon League.
The Bruins finished 2012 with a 39-24 record overall and a 17-10 mark in the Atlantic Sun en route to an NCAA Regional appearance. This is Belmont's first year in the Ohio Valley Conference and they've been picked to finish second. Judah Akers is the team's top returning hitter, batting .336 last season with 22 extra-base hits and 36 runs batted in. Belmont returns seven from last year's championship pitching staff, including all-conference honorees senior Chase Brookshire and junior James Buckelew. Brookshire, who was tabbed the OVC Preseason Pitcher of the Year, recorded a career-best 2.45 ERA.
Ohio will faceoff against Belmont for the first time in school history on Saturday. The Bobcats' meeting with Valparaiso will mark its first matchup since 1968. Ohio's last meeting with Valparaiso in 1968 was also its first meeting between the two teams. In that matchup, the Bobcats earned a 1-0 victory in the NCAA District IV regional.
Ohio returns to action next week as it travels to Greenville, N.C. to take on Illinois (Feb. 22), Boston College (Feb. 23) and New Mexico State (Feb. 24).