BASEBALL: Ball State releases 2011 schedule
Cardinals confident after fall ball
The schedule for coach Alex Marconi's first season as Ball State's head coach features visits to Ball Diamond by Indiana and Purdue and a Spring Break tournament at Coastal Carolina.
Ball State will open its season with a three-game series beginning Feb. 18 at Kennesaw State. Ball State will play its first 14 games on the road before its home opener against Dayton on March 16.
Ball State will open Mid-American Conference play with a three-game series at home against Ohio on March 25.
Some teams that have been regular fixtures on the Cardinals' schedule in recent years have been replaced. Ball State will not play Lousiville for the first time since 2005. Also missing from the schedule is Ohio State, where former Ball State coach Greg Beals left Muncie for this summer. The Cardinals and Buckeyes had played four times in the past four years.
Shortstop T.J. Baumet expected to be picked in June's MLB Draft, but he went undrafted. So Baumet has returned to Ball State for his senior year and inherited a leadership role from last year's captain Zach Dygert.
Baumet said he was disappointed at the time not to join teammates Kolbrin Vitek, Perci Garner and Dygert in the draft but is excited to play one more season of college baseball.
"I was a little upset at the time," he said. "But now I'm playing to prove everyone wrong."
Losing Garner and Vitek to the draft has left the Cardinals' weekend rotation in flux this year. Additionally, Cal Bowling, the only returning starting pitcher, did not practice all fall because of a back injury that required surgery.
Senior Morgan Coombs, who was Ball State's best starting pitcher at the start of last year, did not pitch in fall ball as well as he recovered from surgery. Still, Marconi thinks his rotation will come together by February.
"I think we'll be OK by spring," he said. "We have a good handful of young guys."
The NCAA made an adjustment to the guidelines for the bats that will be used this season, making them act more like wood bats.
Reports from teams across the country that used the bats this fall indicated the ball does not jump off the bat like it has in the past, resulting in less power.
Marconi said Ball State didn't have the bats yet and doesn't feel strongly either way on the issue.
"They're going to be more like hitting with wood," he said. "But they will still be aluminum bat hits when the ball gets in on the handles."