Western Michigan Baseball Travels to Memphis to Open 2014 Season
KALAMAZOO, Mich.- The Western Michigan baseball opens the 2014 season this weekend, traveling to Memphis for a three-game series, Feb. 14-16.
Western Michigan Broncos (2013 Record: 16-38, 8-19 MAC)
at Memphis Tigers (2013: 35-24, 14-10 CUSA)
Feb. 14-16 – 6:15 p.m. / 3 p.m. / 1 p.m. ET
Memphis, Tenn. – FedExPark
Probable Starters WMU vs. Memphis (2013 stats)
GM1: LHP Steve Laudicina (3-9, 3.44 ERA) vs. RHP Jon Reed (2-0, 4.11 ERA)
GM2: RHP Chad Mayle (8-1, 0.94 ERA - JUCO) vs. LHP Colin Lee (0-0, 1.62)
GM3: RHP Will Nimke (2-6, 7.24 ERA) vs. RHP Dylan Toscano (2-0, 3.14 ERA)
WHAT WE ARE WORKING WITH
Western Michigan returns 21 letterwinners and 7 of 8 starting position players, as well as its top arm in its rotation and a total of 10 pitchers from last year’s squad ... WMU’s crop of seven newcomers was ranked as the 58th best recruiting class in the nation, according to Collegiate Baseball newspaper ... WMU has a total of seven seniors ... the Broncos are under their fourth season under head coach Billy Gernon.
"We have a veteran team from a stand point that our freshmen played a lot last year," Gernon said. "We have the best position player depth I've ever had as a head coach. We have a very strong shortstop in Andrew Sohn, at what is the most important position on the field. We have good team speed and are improving consistently on a daily basis. I also feel that our current coaching staff has had a positive impact on the development of players."
NOTABLE 2013 WINS
Highlights of the 2013 season included victories over Big Ten opponents Minnesota, Michigan and Northwestern ... it was the second year in a row Western Michigan had defeated Michigan on the road in Ann Arbor, and the second straight season WMU defeated Northwestern.
Western Michigan had 62 stolen bases in 2013, the most for the program since swiping 65 in 2004, and the second highest total in the last 14 seasons, dating back to 2000 ... WMU’s stolen base number has gone up every season under head coach Billy Gernon (2011-38, 2012-42) ... Andrew Sohn was 17-for-19 in stolen base attempts, while Jared Kujawa was 14-for-17 and Vinnie Booker was 10-14 ... Booker stole a team best 18 bags in 2012.
SOHN PROJECTED AS MAC POTY
Junior shortstop Andrew Sohn was projected as the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year by Baseball America in the publication's 2014 college preview ... he was also named Preseason First Team All-MAC by College Sports Madness ... Sohn was a First Team All-MAC, Academic All-MAC and MAC Player of the Week selection last season, hitting .337 and leading WMU in nearly every offensive category.
LAUDICINA ON THE MOVE IN RECORD BOOK
Senior left-handed pitcher Steve Laudicina returns as WMU's No. 1 starter and has been in the Broncos' starting rotation all four years ... Laudicina enters this season with a 14-17 career record and a 3.79 ERA, with 144 strikeouts in 233.0 innings pitched ... Laudicina currently ranks 10th in career innings pitched and should move into the top 10 in strikeouts this season ... if he hits numbers close to last year, he could move as high as third all-time for career K's.
In his first season at WMU, junior RHP Chad Mayle is expected to have an immediate impact ... Mayle spent his first two seasons at Kellogg Community College, where he was a NJCAA First-Team Baseball All-American and Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA) Player of the Year in 2013 ... Mayle had an 8-1 record with a 0.94 ERA and 56 strikeouts last season.
Memphis is coming off a 35-24 overall record last season and is in its 10th season under head coach Daron Schoenrock who earned 2013 Conference USA Coach of the Year honors ... Memphis has moved to the American Athletic Conference for 2014 ... the team had a .266 batting average and a 3.05 staff ERA ... the Tigers return 22 letterwinners, including eight pitchers and eight starting position players.
WMU travels to No. 13 and 2013 College World Series participant Louisville for a three-game series next weekend, Feb. 21-23, before heading down to Port Charlotte, Fla., for the fourth consecutive year of play in the Snowbird Classic, beginning Feb. 28 ... the Broncos will play the Detroit Tigers Prospect team for the third year in a row at Joker Marchant Stadium as part of the annual Florida trip .... the first home game for the Broncos will be on March 25 against Big Ten opponent Northwestern.