Baseball to open fall practice on Oct. 14
Junior Dan Gulbransen will be one of several Dolphins' players back in action for fall practice on Oct. 14.
Junior Dan Gulbransen will be one of several Dolphins' players back in action for fall practice on Oct. 14.
The JU baseball team is hoping to set up a long and successful season as the Dolphins kick off fall practice on Oct. 14 at John Sessions Stadium.

The Dolphins, who have reached the NCAA Tournament in four of the last six seasons, will practice for about a month before concluding with their annual Green & Gold Fall World Series from Nov. 17-19. Also in the mix will be the program’s annual alumni game on Nov. 5 at 11 a.m.

“We are going to start our fall about a week later than we usually have in the past,” JU head coach Terry Alexander said as he enters his 32nd season at JU. “We had a lot of players go out and play summer ball and a couple of our returners our rehabbing some minor injuries. It also gives our new guys a chance to get acclimated in the classroom and get a head start on their lifting and conditioning.”

“Overall, we are excited to get started,” JU associate head coach Tim Montez said. “We look forward to seeing how our returners and newcomers come together and develop this fall. This is a chance for us to lay the framework of what we want to do in 2012.”

JU is set to bring majority of its 2011 squad back, including the Wisconsin duo of juniors Adam Brett Walker II and Dan Gulbransen.

Walker II led the A-Sun with a .409 batting average, 99 hits and 23 doubles in helping the Dolphins reach the NCAA regionals. He also paced the squad with 13 home runs, 75 RBI, 165 total bases and a .685 slugging percentage. His hits and total bases totals each broke single-season records for the program.

Walker II batted .446 with 16 doubles, six home runs and 42 RBI in conference play to take home the A-Sun “Player of the Year” and first team all-conference honors. Walker also received A-Sun all-tournament honors after pacing the Dolphins with a .429 average (6-14) with a home run and two RBI.

Gulbransen was named first team all-conference honors in 2011 after ranking second in average (.370), doubles (18), triples (2), RBI (52) and slugging percentage (.546).

The duo also kept in sync with each other by spending the summer playing in the Cape Cod League playing for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. Gulbransen finished third on team in hitting with a .303 average, while Walker II was tied for the team lead in RBI with 17.

On the hill, the Dolphins can look forward to the veteran leadership of seniors Steve Eagerton and Sean Green. After battling nearly two season’s worth of injuries, they would each remerge to have a good year in 2011. Eagerton was one of three pitchers nationally to not lose in 2011 after posting a 9-0 record, while Green hurled a career-best seven innings at the A-Sun Tournament against Mercer.

Sophomore Chris Anderson also returns after posting 11 saves in 2011 en route to freshman All-America honors by Collegiate Baseball and National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America (NCBWA).

JU is set to have a good set of newcomers that they hope will pay dividends in 2012. p> Two new names at the top of the Dolphins list is another Wisconsin duo in Alex McRae and Nolan Peterson.

McRae, who was a RHP/Utility at New Berlin Eisenhower high school, earned six overall “Player of the Year” honors from the All-State, All-District, NOW Newspapers All-Suburban, All-Woodland Conference and All-Black Division teams in 2011.

McRae finished with a 12-0 record in 14 games with a 0.72 ERA and eight complete games. He also batted .430, scored 39 runs, drove in 31 and had 21 extra base hits (13 doubles, three triples, five homers). He walked 25 times and only struck out once.

Peterson is a right-handed pitcher and utility from Marquette University High School in Milwaukee. He was rated No. 475 nationally and No. 2 in the state of Wisconsin by Perfect Game USA.

As a junior, Peterson earned second team all-conference honors after hitting .389 with six home runs, 51 RBI and 18 stolen bases while logging a 3.36 ERA, three complete games and 88 strikeouts. He was also a member of the USSA National Team which played in Japan over the summer of 2010. He also played for the Racine Hitters for three seasons.

Other newcomers that will get counted on early are transfers Corben Madden (Seminole State College/Florida State) and Jake Huxtable (Santa Fe State College/UCF).

Also in the mix is Wes Torrez is a 6-foot-5, right-handed pitcher from Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan. that will eat up a lot of innings.

- Brian DeLettre