SU's baseball team opens their season this weekend with a three-game homestand against Utah Valley. In a special contribution to appear in the upcoming Seattle University Magazine, head coach Donny Harrel shared his thoughts on this year's team and why they have high expectations for the 2012 campaign.
We are extremely excited about our third year of baseball at the Division I level at Seattle University. We have come a long way in a short time. After winning just 11 games in our first season, we doubled that total last year.
Our program is now at a point where we have true experience. The members of our first freshman signing class are now in their junior years, and our junior college transfers are seniors. Combining that experience with a tremendously hard-working freshman class should bring more wins in 2012. Our team goal for the season is to reach the 30-win mark. If we play like our staff believes we can, that goal is very reachable.
We again have more home games than away games, and we are excited for our team and fans to see us play against high-quality institutions such as UConn, Portland, UW, Santa Clara and BYU.
We've added 12 new student-athletes to our roster. Depth at pitching is a key. Senior righthanders Brandon Kizer and Seafth Howe are expected anchor our pitching staff. Righthander Eric Yardley brings experience to the bullpen, while freshman Mason Stidham and junior Blaine Jones will take the closing roles.
Offensively, we return our team MVP, senior second baseman Trent Oleszczuk. Senior Doug Kincaid, second on the team in RBIs last season, returns in the outfield and should be complemented in the middle of the lineup by juniors Josh Kutz and Sean Narby, along with seniors Riley Tompkins and Jace Sloan.
Senior outfielders Marcelino Morales and Michael Tevlin, who is coming back from a broken wrist, should both compete at the top of the order. Returning infielders Cullen Hendrickson, Nick Latta and Nate Roberts are expected to fill the front end of the lineup, while junior outfielder Bryndon Ecklund could set the table or mix into the middle of the lineup after adding strength to his frame this past summer.
Behind the plate, we are in a much better position to shut down our opponents' running games. Experienced redshirt sophomore Ryan Somers and junior Steve Kirbach bring experience. Senior Tyler Sustare continues to improve, and freshman Brian Olson led all catchers in hitting during the fall season. These four players give us depth and great leadership to draw from during the grind of the season.
Our program and alumni have been hard at work enhancing all our facilities and getting us up to speed to meet the expectations of Division I competition. We've been able to make a number of improvements to our field at Bannerwood Park, which thanks to the City of Bellevue, is now outfitted with new lighting.
We're ready to play, and hope you'll come out and support us in what promises to be an exciting season.
Donny Harrel is SU's baseball coach.