Opening Day is finally here for the 2014 Jacksonville University baseball team. the Dolphins begin the 58th season in program history with a three game series at No. 19 TCU.
The 2014 campaign marks a new era for JU baseball as longtime assistant coach Tim Montez takes over as the seventh head coach for the storied program. A veteran coach with over 27 years of experience, Montez has been part of the Dolphins staff since 2006 and the Assistant Head Coach/Pitching Coach the past six seasons.
Jacksonville is looking to answer back from a 2013 campaign in which the team finish at 17-38 overall. The Dolphins are welcoming 17 newcomers into a group of 14 returning letterwinners.
Junior righty Alex McRae will get the opening day start on Friday for the Dolphins. McRae (3-8; 4.71 ERA) will be matched up against lefty Brandon Finnegan of TCU. Finnegan (0-8; 3.18) was recently ranked as the No. 15th player in the nation by College Baseball Daily. Jacksonville dealt him a 5-3 loss in the series opener last year at John Session Stadium.
On Saturday righty Zach Gordon (2-6; 7.66 ERA) will get the ball for Jacksonville against preseason all-american right hander Preston Morrison (7-3; 1.51 ERA).
Seminole State transfer Justin Russell makes his Dolphins debut on Sunday as he closes out the series with a start opposite freshman lefty Tyler Alexander. Russell last pitched in 2012 for Seminole State when he posted a 6-1 mark with a 2.51 ERA.
In the first ever series between the schools last season in Florida, Jacksonville won game one 5-3 before TCU won the next two to take the series.
Friday night’s game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest starting at 7:30 p.m. EST. FSSW is available on DirecTV 676 or Dish Network 416 FS Southwest. Check with your cable provider for local listings.
Next Up For Jacksonville
The Dolphins return home on Tuesday against No. 5 Florida State at 4:00 pm. The mid-week game against the Seminoles kicks off a 12 game home stand for Jacksonville.
Jacksonville Head Coaching Debuts
Tim Montez is looking to become the first Jacksonville Head Coach to win his debut since Barry Myers in 1967. Overall Dolphin head coaches are 3-3 in their first games.
Montez on Taking over the Program
“It’s exciting. I look forward to the challenge. I’ve been blessed over my 23 years at the Division I level and 27 years overall to have been around some great programs and great coaches. The opportunity to have been around Coach Alexander the past eight years has been very beneficial to me. I’ve had opportunities over the years to be a head coach, but for whatever reason I wasn’t able to take those opportunities, but now I have been blessed to have this opportunity and I am excited and I’m ready to go. I know there will be challenges, but that all comes with the territory.”
Assistant Coach Chuck Jeroloman on Returning to TCU
Assistant Coach Chuck Jeroloman is also making his debut on the Dolphins bench this season after spending the past two years on staff at TCU
“I’m really excited that our guys here at JU have the opportunity to face some outside competition more than anything. My time at TCU was awesome for the past two years, but now I’m proud to be part of the JU baseball family. With my time there I have a pretty good idea of the atmosphere so I can help prep our guys with what type of environment to expect. Particularly on opening weekend when they’ve always drawn well in the past. I have good feel as to how the field plays and how the wind can be a factor. They are a really talent team, especially on the mound.”
Maxon Closing in on Dolphins Appearances record
Senior Adam Maxon enters the 2014 campaign with 85 appearances to his credit. Maxon needs just four appearance to equal the Jacksonville school record currently held by Joel Hegeman (1996-99) who appeared in 89 games.
Baseball America Tabs McRae as one of A-Suns top 2014 Draft Picks
Junior righty Alex McRae was recently selected as the fourth best draft pick in the A-Sun by Baseball America. McRae finished last season at 3-8 with a 4.71 ERA in 84 innings. He can touch 89-92 with a curveball, slider and a quality change up.
No stranger to the success in the MLB draft, former Jacksonville ace Chris Anderson was a first round pick last season when the LA Dodgers made him the No. 18 overall selection
The Marabell’s & Dolphin Baseball: A Family Tradition
Sophomore Connor Marabell is the fourth member of his family to attend JU and the third to wear the Dolphin Green and Gold. Both of his parents, Scott and Jocelyn and his uncle, Luke attended JU. Scott (1986-87) and Luke (1994-95) both played baseball for the Dolphins.
Baseball America also selected him as the No. 5 prospect in the A-Sun for the 2015 draft. the left-handed hitting Marabell is in his first season with the Dolphins after hit a team best .383 last season at Seminole State while leading the team to a 36-14 overall record. During the course of the season he also led the Raiders in extra base hits, runs scored, RBI and slugging percentage.