Portsmouth, Ohio – Shawnee State baseball open their season this weekend when they travel to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to play in the William Carey University Coca-Cola Classic.
The Bears will play their first game of the year on Friday afternoon when they play #9 Missouri Baptist at 3:00pm. Shawnee State will follow that up later in the evening when they play the 23rd-ranked hosts at 7:00pm. On Saturday, Shawnee State will play one more game against Missouri Baptist at 12:00pm to finish the classic.
The games were originally scheduled to be played on the campus of William Carey University. However, a class EF3 tornado hit Hattiesburg on January 21st, causing major damage to much of the campus, including WCU's baseball field. As a result, the games have been moved to Hattiesburg High School.
Shawnee State baseball is looking to improve on last season's 19-33 finish, and returns six Mid-South Conference All-Conference selections, including first team right handed pitcher Derek Moore (SR/Wheelersburg, Ohio). In 13 games (12 starts), Moore was 6-5 with a 2.79 ERA in 84.0 innings pitched. SSU's leading returning hitter was Nick Rose (SO/Olentangy, Ohio), who hit .265 with a .375 on-base percentage, two home runs and 16 RBIs. SSU returns five MSC honorable mention players: JT Boggs (JR/South Shore, Ky.), Andrew Ditto, Matt Dvorscak (JR/Whiting, Ind.), Josh Eplin (SR/Streator, Ill.), and Brady Knittel (JR/West Portsmouth, Ohio).
Missouri Baptist, ranked #9 in the NAIA Baseball Coaches' Preseason Poll, went 45-15 last season and reached the NAIA Baseball National Championships Opening Round, where they were eliminated by Sterling College (Kan.). #23 William Carey were 40-21 last season, and also reached the Opening Round, getting eliminated by The Master's (Calif.). The weekend's games will be the first ever meeting between Shawnee State and either opponent.
First pitch of the Shawnee State baseball season is scheduled for 3:00pm against Missouri Baptist on Friday, with the 7:00pm game against William Carey to follow.