The Razorbacks start the year ranked No. 15 and reached the final four of the College World Series last year before falling to eventual national champion Louisiana State University.
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Cody Elliott will replace Jeremy Hazelbaker in center field this year, after the All-American signed with the Boston Red Sox.
Last year, Ball State had the worst defense in the MAC. This year, the Cardinals know that area of the game must be improved.
The approach is similar to what coach Greg Beals and other college coaches use in midweek games when their best starting pitchers are resting. The difference with Ball State's new approach is the length of the pitchers' outings. In a typical midweek game, Beals often uses pitchers for only one inning at a time.
Former first round draft pick Larry Bigbie helped bring the Ball State baseball program into the national stage.
Even as preseason accolades roll in, Ball State is trying to remain focused on Opening Day at Arkansas in less than two weeks.
For the second time this year, second baseman/pitcher Kolbrin Vitek has been named to a preseason All-American team. Ping! Baseball named the junior a third team All-American at the utility position.
Ball State junior Kolbrin Vitek was named second-team preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball newspaper, despite switching to the position for this season.
Concerns about losing two junior starters in his infield to the MLB Draft in June led coach Greg Beals to focus on adding depth in his 2010 recruiting class.Beals said that in addition to All-Mid-American Conference second baseman Kolbrin Vitek, who is likely to be a high-round pick, shortstop T.J. Baumet could also be lost to the draft.
After sitting out last year with a medical redshirt, junior Ali Bishel was not about to let her shot at nationals slip away."I had already waited two years for this chance to advance to the championships," Bishel said. "I was not about to wait another year and leave with excuses."
Preseason rankings are often blown off by coaches as meaningless accolades. The Ball State University baseball team will get a firsthand look at why so many ignore preseason polls. The University of Missouri baseball team, the Cardinals' next opponent, began the season ranked No. 20 in the country. The Tigers have started the year 3-7, including a seven-game losing streak.Despite Missouri's struggles, coach Greg Beals said he expects a strong test for Ball State in its four-game series beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday.