Coming off another strong finish in the Sun Belt tournament, the Arkansas State Red Wolves open the baseball season at home on Friday against New York Tech. It is the first of our four game-series against the New York City school, which is in a partnership with A-State on its new College of Osteopathic Medicine.
The Red Wolves were 29-29 last season and return 5 position and 2 pitching starters from that squad. The Red Wolves added 16 newcomers, seven of them from junior college.They are a preseason fifth pick in the Sun Belt West. UL-Lafayette is the favorite. Defending national champion Coastal Carolina is the East favorite.
1B: Joe Schrimp begins his senior season with his fourth position. He’s been at 3B, 2B and catcher and now moves across the infield. Others: JD Rainwater.
2B: Jeremy Brown made the move to 2B because of a leg injury last season and will stay there this season. He showed a big offensive improvement from freshman to junior season.
SS: Juco transfer Grant Hawkins, a strong fielder, moves into the starting role. Speedy junior Tim Seldomridge is the backup here and at other infield spots.
3B: Another juco transfer Alex Howard moves in here.
C: Justin Felix, one of three transfers from NMMI, is the front-liner at catcher. Freshmen Austin Powell and Cullen Ray are the backups. Holdover Daltan Lovell, who hit well at the end of the season, is slowed by injury going into the season.
CF: Senior Garrett Rucker will start in the middle.
OF: Derek Birginske and Jake Bakamus will man the corner spots. Redshirt freshman Drew Tipson, Freshmen Colton Nix and Garry Hill are also available.
DH: A combination of several players, junior Winston Welch, junior Casey Vaughn, Lovell, Rainwater. Juco transfer Toby Johnson will get in the mix when he recovers from offseason surgery.
Starting: Junior RH Bryan Ayers, juco RH Tyler Mitzel, sophomore RH Peyton Culbertson, freshman LH Collin Cahill and junior RH Bo Ritter are the top candidates. Zach Patterson is also in the mix. Ayers, Mitzel and Culbertson are top candidates for the weekend starts.
Back end: A combination of senior RH Tyler Zuber and junior RH Tanner Kirby will be used depending up on the situation. Both had strong fall camps.
Middle: Soph RH Brady Welch, RFR LH Brandon Stuckenschneider, Freshmen LH Chase Nix, RH Blake Wynn, RH Conrad Ray. and RH Grant Schroeder.