It won’t take long for the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor baseball team to find a challenge when the Cru opens the 2019 season with three games this weekend. UMHB will take on the defending National Runner-Up and the team picked to win the American Southwest Conference as the Cru plays three games in the Rusty Greer/Jackie Moore Classic in Grand Prairie to open the year.
UMHB will open the year with a 6 pm start against defending national runner-up Texas Lutheran University on Friday. The Cru takes on ASC preseason favorite Concordia Texas in an 11 am first pitch on Saturday and closes out the weekend with a 1 pm game against Hendrix College on Sunday. All of those teams will be opening the season this weekend. Live stats and live video will both be available for the Texas Lutheran and Concordia games. Live stats only will be provided for the contest versus Hendrix. Links to all of the live coverage can be found on the UMHB Athletic Department web site at www.cruathletics.com [cruathletics.com].
Following this weekend’s action, UMHB will play a three-game series at Schreiner University on February 15-16th in Kerrville. The Cru will then play its home opener against Trinity University at 6 pm on February 19th.
The Cru returns 20 letter winners from a team that finished 10-29 overall and went 6-18 in American Southwest Conference play last season. UMHB missed the ASC Championship Tournament for just the second time in the last six years and is picked to finish 12th in the ASC this season.
The Cru pitching staff will have to replace leading winner and All-Conference selection Casey Frazier in the starting rotation, but still returns significant depth from last year’s staff. Jeb Zolman is healthy again after missing much of last season with injury. He was 2-1 and posted a team-best 2.30 ERA. Senior Jackson Godoy led UMHB with two saves and Evan Samoff started nine games last season. Connor Heussner led the team in strikeouts and appearances last season. Other key returners to the pitching staff include: Bailey Whatley, Harrison Sims, Josh Horton, Kam Levis, Andrew Hutchings and Hayden Ball. Garrett Gonzales should split the season between the mound and the infield and Ross Baer is returning from an injury that cost him most of the 2018 season. UMHB also features seven newcomers on the pitching staff to provide depth and fill out the starting rotation.
The UMHB offense will rely on some new faces after losing five of the team’s top six hitters from last season. Malek Bolin was All-Conference as a freshman and hit .318 with five home runs and 16 RBI. Mitch Patterson batted .313 and started 31 games at third base and Landon Dieterich is a veteran who started 37 games and hit three home runs last season. Hunter McQuary is the most experienced returning catcher and Zolman, Gonzales and Dawson Shibley all started games in the infield. Devon Patterson, Kody Ramon and Jack Herbert all saw time in the outfield last year and Dieterich could also move to the outfield after playing a variety of infield positions the last two seasons. The Cru will also look for offensive help from a deep recruiting class this year.
Head Coach Ben Shipp returns for his 18th season at the helm of the UMHB baseball program. He has a 386-384 record in that time and has guided the Cru to ASC Tournament berths in four of his six seasons since returning to the dugout. UMHB will open conference play with a three-game series at Howard Payne University on March 1-2 in Brownwood.