Baseball starts 2012 season with first spring practice
Click the button to enjoy this baseball film project video by JU track & field athlete Charlene Charles Play Video
Click the button to enjoy this baseball film project video by JU track & field athlete Charlene Charles
The familiar sounds of a ball hitting metal bats and gloves will rain again from John Sessions Stadium as the JU baseball team opens practice today for the 2012 season.

High expectations chase the Dolphins this season who return 20 players from the 2011 season that finished with a 37-24 to reach the NCAA Regionals for the fourth time in the last six seasons.

“Everybody is always chomping at the bit to get practice started,” JU head coach Terry Alexander said. “We look forward to getting ready for what could be an exciting season. Our non-conference schedule is very tough and our conference is the best it has been in many years, but we look forward to the challenge ahead of us.”

JU is ranked 38th in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll and received a vote in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll. They also were picked by Baseball America last spring as team to reach the Super Regionals.

The Dolphins bring back most of their defensive lineup for the 2012 season.

Senior third baseman Kevin Lehane and junior first baseman Adam Brett Walker II will lock down the corner infield spots, while sophomore Chris Moye is also back in the middle infield for the Dolphins.

In the outfield, senior Jonathan Murphy and junior Dan Gulbransen return in left field and center field, respectively, while sophomore Taylor Ratliff will start in right field.

Other returners include sophomores Zachary Houck (OF), Tyler Hooten (OF), Colin Monagle (INF), Jimmy Appleby (INF). Junior newcomers Ethan Loosen (SS) and Jake Huxtable (2B) will start up the middle, while freshman Dylan Dillard is ready to contribute right away in the outfield.

The Dolphins’ best battle this spring will be behind the plate with senior Matt Frank, sophomore Patrick Long, Garrett Ruckel all looking to fill the shoes left by Alex Swenson graduating.

On the hill, the Dolphins can look forward to the veteran leadership of seniors Steve Eagerton and Sean Green. 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).

The rest of the returning pitching staff includes Houck, Appleby, sophomore Adam Maxon, senior Clay Kollenbaum, sophomore Will Flor, redshirt-freshman Spencer Jack, redshirt-freshman Clayton Levins and junior Joe Ryan.

Freshman Alex McRae and Nolan Peterson, both from Wisconsin,are two of several new pitchers ready to help shoulder the load this season. Freshmen RC Williams and Jeff Tanner round out the newest pitchers, while junior transfers Corben Madden, Wes Torrez and Drew Woods look to help strengthen the staff through their experience.

The Dolphins open the season with a three-game series at Southern California on Feb. 17. They will play at Florida State on Feb. 21 before hosting Northeastern for the inaugural Roger Strickland Classic on Feb. 24 at 4 pm.