Baseball opens season at Southern California Friday
Senior Steve Eagerton will toe the rubber in the opener  for JU.
Senior Steve Eagerton will toe the rubber in the opener for JU.
It’s finally time for the JU baseball team to see some live action as it begins a three-game set Friday in Los Angeles against Southern California.

Friday’s first pitch is at 9 p.m. EST. Game two is set for Saturday at 5 p.m. EST, while the rubber match is slated for Sunday at 4 p.m. EST.

Following the three-game series, the Dolphins, picked second in the Atlantic Sun polls, play at Florida State on Tuesday at 4 p.m. Friday’s game as well as the Florida State contest can heard on 1010xl radio.

“We are ready to get started,” JU head coach Terry Alexander said. “Our guys are ready to play someone with a different colored jersey. We play two tough teams to start the season, but this will help down the road for conference play.”

Expectations are high for JU this season who return 20 players from the 2011 squad that finished with a 37-24 record to reach the NCAA Regionals for the fourth time in the last six seasons.

The Dolphins have been ranked Collegiate Baseball (38th) and College Baseball Daily Mid-Major (9th) preseason polls, while also getting a vote in the USA Today/ESPN poll.

Junior first baseman Adam Brett Walker II is one of the anchors back for the Dolphins infield. After strong 2011, the Wisconsin native has been named preseason All-America, the A-Sun preseason “Player of the Year” and to the preseason all-conference team.

In 2011, 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.

Senior Jonathan Murphy, junior Dan Gulbransen and sophomore Taylor Ratliff look to cover a lot of grass for JU in the outfield.

Murphy was near the top of the nation in outfield assists in 2011, while Gulbransen earned preseason all-conference honors after hitting .370 as a sophomore. Ratliff, who earned A-Sun all-freshman and National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America (NCBWA) Freshman All-America accolades, moves to outfield after spending last season in the infield.

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 the NCBWA.

The Trojans return 15 players from the 2011 squad that had a 25-31 record and finished seventh in the Pac-12.

Alex Sherrod is one of three players back who hit better than .300 last season. He finished with six home runs and 35 RBI in 2011. On the hill, Andrew Triggs recorded 70.2 innings, 62 strikeouts and a 3.95 ERA in 2011.

The Seminoles bring back 17 players that was a game short of their second straight College World Series berth in 2011. Florida State posted a 46-19 recorded which has them top ten in most preseason polls.

James Ramsey returns for his senior season after hitting .364 with 10 home runs and 67 RBI in 2011. Jayce Boyd had 60 RBI for the Seminoles, while Brian Busch posted 63 inning of work to lead the Florida State returning pitchers.

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