The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor baseball team will kick off the 2018 season with a busy stretch in its opening week of play. The Cru will open the season with four games in a span of five days. That stretch opens with a non-conference game at Texas Lutheran University in Seguin on Tuesday, February 13th.
UMHB will take on the Bulldogs in a 7:00 PM start Tuesday in Seguin. While it will be the season opener for the Cru, TLU has already played five games and is off to a 5-0 start to the year. The Bulldogs were picked to finish third in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) in the league’s annual Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Live video and live statistical coverage of Tuesday night’s opener will be available through links on the UMHB Athletic Department web site at www.cruathletics.com.
Following Tuesday night’s game, the Cru will continue its season opening stretch of games against teams from the SCAC with four straight home contests. UMHB will welcome Schreiner University to Red Murff Field for a three-game series on Friday and Saturday. The Cru will close out that stretch with a 6:00 PM home contest against Southwestern University on Tuesday, February 20th.
The Cru returns 16 letter winners from a team that finished 22-18 overall and went 16-8 in American Southwest Conference play last season. UMHB advanced to the ASC Championship Tournament and is picked to finish fifth in the ASC this season. That group also includes a pair of key contributors who missed the majority of last season with injuries.
The Cru pitching staff will have to replace All-American closer Aaron Barteau and All-Conference starter Nathan Kent, but has several experienced arms to build around this year. Casey Frazier (Sr., Salado) was an All-Conference selection after posting a 4-0 record and 2.43 ERA last season. Evan Samoff (So., The Woodlands) pitched his way into the starting rotation as a freshman and went 2-5 with a 4.86 ERA. Connor Heussner (Jr., Katy) also started three games and appeared in a total of 14 on the mound last season and has the versatility to pitch in a variety of roles. Jackson Godoy (Jr., Crosby), Mason Schuh (Jr., Magnolia), Jacob Krzemein (Sr., The Woodlands), Trevis Green (Sr., Georgetown) and Josh Horton (Jr., Tomball) are also returning pitchers who will have a chance to contribute in several roles. UMHB also features ten newcomers on the pitching staff to provide depth and fill out the starting rotation.
The UMHB offense will build around a trio of returning All-Conference players and two former starters who were sidelined the majority of 2017 by injuries. Third baseman Mitch Patterson (Jr., Magnolia) led the Cru with a .336 batting average and he added 20 RBI and a team-best 48 hits. Mark Frankhouser (So., Cibolo) was an All-Conference utility player who should primarily see time as a middle infielder this year. He batted .319 with four homers and 22 RBI last season and also won a conference championship as a kicker and defensive back for the UMHB football team this fall. Outfielder Dakota Best (So., Giddings) also earned All-Conference honors after batting .289 and driving in 11 runs last season. Catcher Max Conway (Jr., Houston) and outfielder/1B Riley Davis (Jr., Conroe) combined for just 10 at-bats last season before injuries knocked them out for the year. Conway was a First Team All-ASC selection in 2016 and Davis batted .328 that season. UMHB also welcomes back returning starters in 1B Landon Dieterich (So., Riesel), OF Caleb Davis (Sr., North Richland Hills) and OF Austin Blanford (So., Boerne). The Cru also brought in a deep and talented class of newcomers to compete for at-bats and playing time in the starting line-up this year.
Head Coach Ben Shipp returns for his 17th season at the helm of the UMHB baseball program. He has a 376-355 record in that time and has guided the Cru to ASC Tournament berths in four of his five seasons since returning to the dugout. UMHB will open conference play with a three-game series at Belhaven University on March 2-3 in Jackson, Mississippi.