Baseball starts 2011 season with first full practice
Fresh off the momentum of the JU Baseball Celebration Weekend, the JU baseball team will try to claim its part of Dolphin history when the squad begins full-team practice today at John Sessions Stadium.

Last year, the Dolphins may not have looked like a successful group on paper but they found magic in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament to put a positive spin on the season. JU finished 27-29 overall and qualified for the conference tourney in the final weekend of the year. The Dolphins eliminated Stetson and UNF before eventually falling to Mercer in the championship game.

“We have been waiting a long time to actually get on the field and see what we have,” said JU head coach Terry Alexander. “In three weeks, we are going to be playing a team with a different uniform so we are ready to get practice started. It’s also good to see that the weather is going to be in our favor as well.”

This season, the Dolphins will feature a lot of new faces with the squad welcoming 15 true freshmen and two junior college transfers. The pitching staff also welcomes back redshirt juniors Steve Eagerton and Sean Green, who each return from injury.

To help with the leadership in 2011, the Dolphins will lean on its senior class to help the new members of the squad in their transition to the Division I level. Among the seniors will be catcher Alex Swenson (who started every game behind the plate last season), outfielder Esterlin Perozo and pitchers Brian Gilroy, Chris Kaminski (second team all-Sun) and Matt Tomshaw (second team all-A-Sun).

JU will also return its Freshman All-America duo from Wisconsin, outfielders Dan Gulbransen and Adam Brett Walker. Gulbransen was named A-Sun “Freshman of the Year”, while also earning first team all-conference and all-freshman honors after leading the Dolphins with a .391 average, 53 runs and multi-hit games (26).

Walker led the squad with 16 home runs, 58 RBI and a .635 slugging percentage en route to second team all-conference and all-freshman accolades. During summer ball, he was voted “Top Prospect” for the Great Lakes Collegiate Summer League. Among the other new faces in the dugout in 2011 will be volunteer assistant coach Brian Snyder. Snyder, who was a standout at Stetson, joins the squad after playing six seasons in the Oakland A’s minor league system.

JU will open the 2011 season with a three-game series at UNC-Wilmington on Feb. 18.