Eagles to start baseball season at home

Zane Clodfelter

Three seasons after the baseball team won its first NCAA title, USI varsity baseball coach Tracy Archuleta says his expectations haven’t changed. For him and the team, it’s all about progressing through the 35 regular season games and positioning themselves for the postseason.

That journey begins tomorrow against Lake Erie (2 p.m. first pitch), in what will be an unfamiliar spot for the opening series of the Eagles season – right here on campus.

“The change in the schedule this year comes with the Southern teams,” Archuleta said. “Within Division II there have been more teams added and conferences are getting bigger.”

In past seasons, the Eagles have opened their schedule in Savannah, GA on the campus of Armstrong Atlantic State University. With the Armstrong Pirates’ Peach Belt conference growing in size, they will begin conference play, forcing USI to go back to a similar schedule used in Archuleta’s first season in Evansville.

“We went back to the 2007 schedule when we opened up at home,” Archuleta said. “The only difference is we aren’t getting out that week before earlier.”

USI enters the season picked to finish second in the GLVC East. Senior Reece Rounder says the Eagles have the ingredients to build off of a 26-24 campaign in 2012. “We have a very good core coming back from last year and they know what it takes to win at a high level,” he said.

Rounder is one of nine Evansville natives on the Eagles roster, and for him it’s nice to have teammates from similar surroundings.

“It’s great to have a lot of local guys because it shows there is a lot of talent around Evansville and hopefully we’ll have fans come out early,” Rounder said.

While playing at home to begin the season is a welcomed change for the Eagles, the weather conditions in Southern Indiana are not ideal for baseball in February and early March. Fellow senior Colton White said the key to opening the season in Indiana is adjusting to the elements.

“As the game goes on, your body starts to warm up, and it really doesn’t impact you,” White said. “A lot of people like to go down south, but I think we’re going to take advantage of playing at home.”

Archuleta says the season is a progression, and the key for the Eagles is not looking ahead too far.

“We have to concentrate on our first series right now and make adjustments as we go along with the season to be in position to get to the next spot,” he said.