FRIDAY, MARCH 26, 2010
Baseball hosts Mercer this weekend
Junior Jamaal Hawkins
Junior Jamaal Hawkins
After completing a seven-game road trip, the JU baseball team (11-11, 4-2) will return to conference action at the friendly confines of John Sessions Stadium against Mercer (14-9, 2-1) beginning on Friday at 6:30 p.m. The series will be completed with a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m. All games can be followed on Live Stats and A-Sun.TV through JUDolphins.com. The first game of Saturday’s doubleheader can be heard live on 1010XL with Barry Milligan and J.P. Shadrick calling all of the action.

Dolphin notables
JU enters this weekend with a four-game losing streak, it’s the program’s longest slide since a four-game span during the 2008 season...since going 6-2 in a span of nine days (March 6-14), including six home games, the Dolphins are currently 1-6 in their last seven which have all been on the road...the Dolphins are 4-6 in their last 10 games against ranked opponents.

Hawkins named to Wallace Watch List
Junior Jamaal Hawkins has been coming into his own over the last month and his efforts have put him on the national radar as he was named to the Wallace Watch List for shortstops. Things didn’t start off so hot for Hawkins at the beginning of the season as he batted .250 (7-28) with only two extra base hits (two doubles) in the first 11 games. After a short benching, Hawkins was inserted back into the lineup on March 10 and has been nothing short of phenomenal ever since. Since March 10, Hawkins is tearing the cover off of the ball by hitting a sizzling .489 (22-45) with five doubles, four home runs, 15 RBI, 39 total bases, a .867 slugging percentage and a .540 on base percentage. He currently leads the squad with a .397 batting average and 23 RBI.

­­­Producing more than just cheese
Thus far in 2010, the Wisconsin freshman duo of Dan Gulbransen and Adam Brett Walker are making Dolphin fans contemplate Cheesehead gear despite the Jacksonville Jaguars living across the St. John’s River. Gulbransen, a center fielder from Appleton, is second on the squad with a .375 batting average, 29 hits, seven doubles, 22 RBI and a .459 on-base percentage. Walker, an OF/DH from Milwaukee, is second on the squad with 22 RBI and fourth with a .338 batting average. He leads the squad with seven home runs and a .738 slugging percentage.

­­­Arms making their way back
The Dolphin pitching staff was not at 100 percent at the start of the season but the squad is slowly working towards that goal. Junior Matt Loosen was sidelined the first two weeks with a knee injury but made his first appearance on Feb. 28. Senior Kyle Kriech made his 2010 debut with a start against UNF on March 20. Junior Sean Green has been slowed by a shoulder injury while sophomore Steve Eagerton is easing his way back into the bullpen after sitting out last season with Tommy John Surgery.

”Wild Thing” is back
JU has been in desperate need of a closer since Hunter Davis tallied 11 saves in 2005 and now the Dolphins have one in junior Chris Kaminski. The Richmond, Texas native joined JU in 2009 after going 6-0 with a 3.86 ERA, four saves and 54 strikeouts as a freshman at Weatherford Junior College. Kaminski lived up to the hype by leading the A-Sun with eight saves in nine opportunities last season while toping the bullpen with 25 appearances, a 2.70 ERA, five wins and 33.1 innings, helping the squad to a 28-1 record when leading after eight innings. For his efforts, he earned A-Sun second team all-conference honors and was named to the 2010 preseason all-conference team. Currently tied for fourth on the JU career list, Kaminski needs one save to tie Matt Davis (13, 2005-08) and Casey Shumaker (13, 2000-01) for second. He needs only five saves to overcome Joe Ausanio (16, 1985-88) as the programs top closer.

­­­Hold on Loosen
Junior Matt Loosen has returned from injury and is showing people why he was a unanimous preseaon selection as he was among three Dolphins to be named to the 2010 A-Sun all-preseason team. After missing the first week of the season with a knee injury, Loosen made his first appearance against Richmond on Feb. 28. He followed that up with his first start on March 3 at Bethune-Cookman - allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts in five innings. He looks to be in mid-seaon form after his performance against No. 2 Florida State on March 8. The Noles entered the contest scoring at least 10 runs in nine of its 10 games but Loosen allowed only one run on six hits while striking out a career-best 11 batters in seven innings.

­­­Chuck O-Milestone
Senior Chuck Opachich enters his final year in a Dolphin uniform and is primed to etch his name in the JU history book. A major cog in the program’s most successful run in the last four years, Opachich has garnered several honors including A-Sun all-freshman (2007), A-Sun preseason all-conference (2008, 2010), A-Sun all-tournament (2007, 2009) and A-Sun first team all-conference (2009) accolades. Last season, Opachich set a milestone by tying Talmadge Nunnari (1997) with a program record 27-game hitting streak. In the JU single-season record book, he also tied Nunnari (1997) with 90 hits. After getting off to a hot start, he has been hampered by a hamstring injury which caused him to miss five games (3/10-17). Currently seventh In the career book, he is currently 84 hits behind Ernie Carr (1985-88) for the program record. Opachich needs six to pass Rocky Rausch (1974-77) for fifth.