For the first time since Ronald Reagan was president, the MTSU baseball team will open up the 2013 season Friday afternoon against Ball State without Steve Petersen.
Jonathan Frebis was named to the All-Sun Belt Preseason Team earlier this week. The Riverdale alum ended last season as the SBC Freshman of the Year. Photo by MT Athletics
Longtime trusted assistant Jim McGuire takes over the reins of the baseball program, which looks at 14 returning seniors to lead the team this season.
Regardless of who is in charge of the program, the goal remains the same for the MTSU players and coaches, and they are ready to get the season started off against the Cardinals in three-game weekend series.
“We are out to try to win a (SBC) championship,” MTSU head coach Jim McGuire said. “We want to play consistent baseball during opening weekend. We expect them to be ready to go right off the bat.”
For the first time since 1988, the Blue Raider baseball team made a coaching change as McGuire takes over after the retirement of Peterson, who enjoyed a 25-year career at the school. The MTSU players and coaches have been pleased with the transition, so far.
“Knowing the buck stops here, and the buck stops with you has been the different part of it,” McGuire said.
Last year's SBC Freshman of the Year, sophomore pitcher and former Riverdale standout Johnathan Frebis, believes the coaching change is going smoothly during the preseason.
“Coach McGuire is very similar to Coach Peterson in many ways,” Frebis said before a practice last week. “He has a old school mentally, but he also brings his new mentally to things which is good for the team.”
This past Monday, the 2013 SBC preseason rankings and All-SBC team was released, and the Blue Raiders were picked in the middle of the pack in sixth out of 11 teams. However, MTSU also received a first-place vote. As for the All-SBC team, two Blue Raiders made the list, Frebis and junior outfielder Trent Miller.
Besides being named SBC Freshman of the Year last season, Frebis received many other postseason awards, including a spot on the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American Team. He finished 2012 with a 6-3 record and a 3.65 ERA, and led the team in strikeouts with 61 in a team-high 81.1 innings pitched.
As for Miller, he started 58 games last season and nailed 13 home runs, which ranked him second in the Sun Belt. Miller also hit an average of .345 with 49 RBIs and 78 hits.
Florida Atlantic is picked to the win the SBC this season, and Troy senior third-baseman Logan Pierce was named SBC Preseason Player of the Year. Arkansas Little-Rock senior right-hander Chance Cleveland was selected SBC Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
Last season's team finished with a 31-28 overall record, and 14-16 in the SBC, which placed the Blue Raiders seventh in the final SBC standings. MTSU will be looking for its first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2009.
“We are going to need all three phases of the team working together every game,” Frebis said. “If we can get all three working we should win a whole lot of games this year.”
First-pitch for Friday game is 3 p.m. with Saturday's game beginning at 2 p.m. and Sunday's at 1 p.m. All of this weekend's games will be at the Reese Smith Jr. Field and will televised on MT10 and streamed on goblueraiders.com.