COMING TUESDAY: A look at the BC pitching staff
COMING WEDNESDAY: A look at the infielders
COMING THURSDAY: A look at the team's outfielders
The 2012 Bridgewater College baseball team is looking forward to the upcoming season that begins Sunday at N.C. Wesleyan College.
There is plenty of reason for optimism as the season approaches. The Eagles return their top three starting pitchers, the entire starting infield and one of the best outfielders in the ODAC. With plenty of returning talent and a solid freshman class the Eagles, the regular season winner in the ODAC in 2011, were a solid choice to win the ODAC title in the coaches' preseason poll released last week.
Along with the returning talent there is also plenty of motivation for this year's team. Despite going 15-3 in the ODAC and 26-18 overall, the Eagles feel like there is still some unfinished business to take care as they came up just short of winning the conference tournament, losing to Randolph-Macon College in the championship round.
"Winning an ODAC title is always one of our goals," head coach Curt Kendall said. "This team has set some lofty goals as far as wins, offensive production and pitching numbers. If this team meets its goals, we are going to have a very good season."
Kendall sees the usual suspects contending with the Eagles for a conference title.
"Randolph-Macon is going to be good. They return one of this best players in nation in Jordan Walton along with other quality players," Kendall said.
"Lynchburg is a team that always competes. They have good players and they always play us tough. Hampden-Sydney is the same way. They put kids on the field who play the game hard. Washington and Lee always seems to run some pretty good arms out to the mound and they have been pretty productive offensively in recent years," Kendall said.
Kendall also expects to see Virginia Wesleyan bounce back after missing the tournament last year. "I've been coaching against Nick Boothe at Wesleyan for a long time. They won't be down for long."
In addition to a solid conference slate, the Eagles will face a strong non-conference schedule as well.
The Eagles have two games slated with Christopher Newport, ranked No. 7 in the d3baseball.com preseason poll, and future ODAC member Shenandoah, ranked No. 21 in the preseason rankings.
Bridgewater also has a challenging spring break trip planned with games against Mount Union, Thomas More, Aurura and Husson.
Thomas More is ranked No. 19 in the preseason poll while Aurora received votes for the Top 25. Husson, like Thomas More and Aurora, was an NCAA tournament team in 2011.
"The non-conference schedule will be challenging and it's that way on purpose," Kendall said. "It will help prepare us for the conference games and, if we make it to postseason play, we will know the caliber of teams we can expect to face."