Thursday, February 15, 2007

Baseball Season Starts Tomorrow

Spider baseball starts tomorrow at The Citadel Shootout in Charleston, SC. Head coach Ron Atkins, retiring after this season – his 23rd – was inducted into our Hall of Fame this winter. He’s the school’s all-time winningest coach. Associate Head Coach Mark McQueen will take over as head coach next season. Mark returns as pitching coach this year, a role he had with Coach Atkins from 1989-2000.

The Spiders play The Citadel Bulldogs Friday at 4 p.m. with junior righthander Alex Hale on the mound. He’s a converted catcher who’s become the number one starter.

If the season opener isn’t enough to get your attention, then Saturday’s game against South Carolina will be. The Gamecocks are 3-0 and ranked number one in the nation. Ray Tanner, the South Carolina head coach, is a good friend from my NC State days. AFTER Saturday, I hope he wins a bunch of games this year and we get to play him again in the College World Series. The tournament concludes Sunday when the Spiders play Liberty.

From what I’m hearing, look for talented freshman lefty pitcher Matt Zielinski to make an immediate impact. He’ll probably see the mound at some point this weekend, and might be the starter for the Spiders home opener next Wed. Feb 21 against VMI at Pitt Field.

Offensively, look for big things from junior first baseman Joe Mahoney and seniors Matt McKenna, Andrew Justice and Vince Riggi.

I know baseball fans are getting excited because spring training camps are opening for pitchers and catchers. But for our Spider baseball team, it starts for real this weekend.