Baseball opens Fall practice for 2013 season
Head Coach Terry Alexander
Head Coach Terry Alexander
The JU baseball team will start laying the groundwork for the 2013 season as it opens fall practice today at John Sessions Stadium.

The Dolphins, who return 16 players from 2012, will work out for six weeks before concluding the fall with the annual Green/Gold World Series from Nov. 8-10. JU will also welcome back its former players for the alumni game on Oct. 13 at 12:30 p.m.

“We have been working hard in the weight room and getting in shape,” JU head coach Terry Alexander said. “Everyone is ready to get out here and start putting everything together to be able to be a team. We are going to find out a lot about ourselves in the next six weeks.”

JU fell below expectations last season with an 18-38 mark and missing the A-Sun tournament. Despite the setback, the Dolphins will look to build a run back to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in the last eight seasons.

Among the 16 returners for the Dolphins will be utility players junior Chris Anderson and sophomore Alex McRae.

Anderson led the pitching staff in wins (5), innings pitched (88.1), strikeouts (69) and opponent’s batting average (.280). He allowed only two walks in his final 21 innings of work, while also getting complete-game wins against ETSU (5/4) and Western Carolina (3/16). Anderson also batted .264 (32-121) with 16 RBI and five doubles in 36 games between first base and designated hitter.

McRae was named to the all-freshman team in 2011 after seeing time on the mound, third base, first base and designated hitter. He led the pitching staff in ERA (3.43) and ranked second in innings pitched (86.2), strikeouts (42) and opponents’ batting average (.288).

McRae struck out a season-best eight batters against Mercer (4/28) and limited USC Upstate to a hit in 7.1 innings on April 21. He was also on the hill when the Dolphins secured Alexander’s 700th win at USF on March 7.

Also in the returner’s mix is junior Zachary Houck who reordered a hit in his first 14 starts of the season, including a team-best, 12-game hitting streak en route to finishing third on the squad in hitting (.295).

The Dolphins will look to fill out the holes of 2012 draftees Adam Brett Walker II, Dan Gulbransen and Jonathan Murphy with 13 newcomers.

The newcomers include junior college transfers in Brady North (1B/Hillsborough JC), Zach Gordon (RHP/St. Petersburg College), Drew Luther (C/Fullerton College) and Scott Schaub (3B/ College of Central Florida).

Kris Molter (3B/Bishop Kenny HS), Michael Babb (OF/Bartram Trail HS), Nathan Koslowski (OF/Episcopal HS), Josh Baker (OF/LHP/University School), Nate Ricci (OF/1B /Madison LaFolette), Jacob Terry (RHP/Navarre HS), Braddock Rowe (C/Bolles School), Christian Diaz (IF/ Steinbrenner HS) and John McNamara (C/ St. Thomas Aquinas HS) will come in as freshman.

“We are in the learning stages and still teaching plays,” Alexander said of the new group. “I don’t know a lot about how we are going to react as a team yet, but individually, they have been working hard. I am looking for positive things. I really feel like this is going to be one of those clubs that has a stick-to-itiveness and good team commodity. They are going to fight and that’s all I am going to ask of them is to fight every step of the way.”

The Dolphins will open the season Feb. 15 with a three-game series vs. Richmond at John Sessions Stadium.