Baseball

2019 Texas Tech Baseball: Breaking Down the Non-Conference Schedule

Below you’ll find an accounting of each of Texas Tech Baseball’s non-conference opponents. The Texas Tech coaching staff have assembled an exceptional 2019 schedule and Head Coach Tim Tadlock seems pleased with it, even teasing that the 2020 schedule will outdo it.

I need to give heavy credit to D1 Baseball‘s Fall Reports for a fair amount of my information, they do a great job there and the subscription is worth the price of admission for the amount of work they put in.


I’ve outlined some basic info about each team history and their 2018 campaign, the Final Rank is their Massey Composite from June 28, 2018.

Oregon Ducks

Date & Time:  February 15 -18
Fri: 2:00 p.m., Sat. 12:00 p.m., Sun. 4:00 p.m., Mon. 1:00 p.m.
Location: Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park
Television: Texas Tech TV
Oregon History
Conference Titles: 14 1918, 1928, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1939, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1946, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957
Conference Tournament Titles:  N/A
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 7 1954, 1964, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
CWS Berths: 1954
Oregon 2018 
Record: 26-29
Conference Record:  12-18 (Pac-12)
RPI: #98
SoS:  #43
Final Rank:  #85
Oregon 2019
Head Coach:  George Horton (11th Season)
Preseason Rank: N/A
Pitching:
Look for junior righthander Kenyon Yovan to anchor the rotation. Yovan posted a 1.97 ERA and 15 saves as a freshman. He transitioned into a starter/reliever role last season as a sophomore going 604 with a 2.98 ERA. Yovan spent the summer in the Cape Cod League and with Team USA, he’ll be the ace of the Oregon rotation.
Junior Ryne Nelson and sophomore Cullen Kafka (both righthanders) should fill out the rest of the starting rotation. Oregon does bring lefties Kolby Somers and Cole Stringer as experienced starters too. Lefthander Nico Tellache will most likely be locking down the closer role this season as well. The Red Raiders will likely see many if not all of these pitchers through their four-game series with the Ducks.
Batting: At the plate, the Ducks only had one player with a batting average above .278, Jakob Goldfarb (.308/.397/.487). The Ducks’ team slashline was one of the worst in Division I at .239/.337/.332 with national rankings of 280th, 259th, 281st respectively. Goldfarb has done work in the outfield and behind the dish but has done most of his work at the plate.
Fielding: Oregon has added a stable of strong freshmen that will be battling for playing time all over the infield and the corners in the outfield. The Red Raiders will likely see a lot of experimentation and a lot of faces throughout their four-game stand with Oregon.
Overview: The Ducks made the NCAA Tournament five out of six seasons from 2010-2015, but they’ve missed the tourney three seasons in a row. Their pitching staff combined for a 4.60 ERA, good for 126th in the country. The Ducks just haven’t been able to put together a strong staff in the last few seasons, either struggling in the starting rotation or from the bullpen. The Ducks appear poised to take a step forward and potentially become a tournament team again. They have more capable pitching this season than they have in recent years and with contributions of electric freshmen, they may be a saltier team than their 2018 campaign suggests.

Kentucky Wildcats

Date & Time:  February 22-24
Fri: 6:00 p.m., Sat: 2:00 p.m., Sun: 1:00 p.m.
Location: Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park
Television: Texas Tech TV
Kentucky History
Conference Titles: 2006
Conference Tournament Titles: N/A
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 7 1988, 1993, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2017
CWS Berths N/A
Kentucky 2018
Record: 34-22
Conference Record:  13-17 (SEC)
RPI: #30
SoS:  #25
Final Rank:  #31
Kentucky 2019
Head Coach:  Nick Mingione (3rd Season)
Preseason Rank: N/A
Pitching:
On the mound, the Wildcats appear poised to not miss a beat. Although, their beat in 2018 was not exceptional. Their rotation’s 5.40 ERA was 212th in the nation but they did amass 508 strikeouts placing them at 50th. Freshman southpaw Dillon Marsh will almost definitely lock down a weekend starting role, bringing with him a four-pitch mix and upside in velocity as he develops strength. Junior lefthander Zack Thompson is coming off of an injury and appears to have fully recovered. His ability to lock down a weekend rotation slot and deliver consistent innings will be very important for the Wildcats’ chances this season.
Batting: The Wildcats posted a team slash line of .294/.401/.493 good for 28th, 11th, & 5th in the country. But, Kentucky will be replacing seven of their top hitters. Look for TJ Collett to carry a heavy hitting load as he comes back from injury. He’s the leader of the team and filled the DH role in the Spring as he continued to recover. Otherwise, Kentucky has a lot of holes to fill in their lineup and not many answers have emerged quite yet.
Fielding: Kentucky will need to fill six positions including their catcher, shortstop, left fielder, and center fielder. There are plenty of guys vying for the roles but nothing is settled as of yet.
Overview: The Wildcats started the 2018 campaign 14-3 in non-conference play but ultimately went 13-17 in the SEC. This conference record is the factor that held the selection committee back from including Kentucky in the field of 64. It’s not an unfair or unpopular assessment to believe the Wildcats had Omaha-level talent last year despite missing the tournament. They have a lot of holes to fill with 13 draft picks now playing pro ball.
They are also moving into brand new digs this season after the completion of the brand new $49 million Kentucky Proud Park. Their new facility will be setting a new standard for college baseball parks and is really something to see.

New Mexico State Aggies

Date & Time:  February 26, Tues: 2:00 p.m.
April 9, Tues: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Feb: Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park
April: Security Bank Ballpark, Midland, TX
Television: Texas Tech TV (1st Game)
New Mexico State History
Conference Titles: 2012
Conference Tournament Titles:  2002, 2018
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 2002, 2003, 2012, 2018
CWS Berths:  N/A
NMSU 2018
Record: 40-22
Conference Record:  17-7 (WAC)
RPI: #87
SoS:  #227
Final Rank:  #66
NMSU 2019
Head Coach:  Brian Green (5th Season)
Preseason Rank: N/A
Pitching:
The Aggies posted a team ERA of 4.00 in 2018, good for 70th in the country. The Red Raiders scored 23 runs on the Aggies in three games last season (12-0, 9-2, and 2-1). Senior hurlers Kyle Bradish and Jonathan Groff led the Aggies from the mound. Bradish was named a Perfect Game Third-Team All American, and along with Goff was named to the ACBA All-Region Second Team. Bradish was taken in the 4th round of the MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Angels. Replacements in the starting rotation are big question marks for this team.
Batting: NMSU’s team slash line was .310/.409/.478 good for 6th, 4th, and 9th in the country. They also scored the 6th most runs in the country at 493. The Aggies were also 1st in the country in hit by pitch, potentially denoting the quality of pitching being faced by Aggie batters in the WAC. Freshman Nick Gonzales led the team with a .347 batting average including 17 doubles, 2 triples, and 9 home runs. He boasted a WAC-leading .596 slugging percentage with 40 runs scored and 36 RBI.
Fielding: NMSU set a school record with the 26th ranked fielding percentage in the country at .977. Freshman second baseman Nick Gonzales was a major contributor to the team’s fielding consistency and was ultimately named to various Freshman All-America teams by five outlets.
Overview: New Mexico State was an NCAA Tournament team in 2018, the first time they’ve been selected since 2012. They also won their first WAC Tournament Championship. They exited from the Lubbock Regional after 2-9 loss to the Red Raiders and falling 2-1 to Kent State. The Aggies had strong pitching in 2018 and some of the top offense in the country, of course, beating up on the WAC isn’t exactly the most impressive way to earn the faith of the committee or boost your RPI. New Mexico schools are standard opponents for Texas Tech, but they’re never a free win, I’m always wary of NMSU.

FRISCO COLLEGE BASEBALL CLASSIC

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Date & Time:  March 1, Fri: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Dr. Pepper Ballpark, Frisco, TX
Television: 
Nebraska Baseball History
Conference Titles: 7 1929, 1948, 1950, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2017
Conference Tournament Titles:  1999, 2000, 2001, 2005
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 17 1948, 1950, 1979, 1980, 1985, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2014, 2016, 2017
CWS Berths: 2001, 2002, 2005
 Nebraska 2018
Record: 24-28
Conference Record:  8-14 (Big 10)
RPI: #105
SoS:  #32
Final Rank:  #104
Nebraska 2019
Head Coach:  Darin Erstad (9th Season)
Preseason Rank: N/A
Pitching: The Huskers lost four pitchers to injury in 2018 for almost the entire season, three of them missing with Tommy John surgery. This showed in the team’s performance with a 232nd ranked 5.70 ERA. Chad Luenssmann has been a strong reliever with 21 saves in 55 appearances. Having both he and Robbie Palkert back from injury will be very important for Nebraska, as well as both pitchers settling into new roles. Look for senior righthander Matt Waldron to step back into a weekend starting role.
Batting: The Nebraska offense in 2018 was far better their it’s pitching rotation. They posted a team slashline of .274/.371/.407, ranked 113th, 91st, and 99th in the country. The Huskers hit 47 home runs in 2018, while there’s no expectation that they’ll do the same again they do have a lineup that knows how to put at-bats together. Look for Jaxon Hallmark to build on a strong freshman campaign and be a potential sparkplug in the Husker lineup.
Fielding: With a strong recruiting class now on campus, the Huskers have added much-needed depth in the infield. This is allowing players to move from secondary positions back to better roles.
Overview: Nebraska made the NCAA Tournament three times in four years from 2014-2017 but last season was hit hard by injuries, particularly in their pitching staff. The Huskers added the 16th ranked recruiting class bringing in much-needed depth on the mound and in the lineup. The Huskers always schedule aggressively and this season is no exception. In addition to the Frisco Classic, Nebraska will be playing a four-game week two series against Oregon State. I think the Huskers could be a real test for Texas Tech in this tournament.

FRISCO COLLEGE BASEBALL CLASSIC

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Date & Time:  March 2, Sat: 6:00 p.m.
Location: Dr. Pepper Ballpark, Frisco, TX
Television:
Mississippi State Baseball History
Conference Titles: 17 1909, 1911, 1918, 1921, 1922, 1924, 1948, 1949, 1965, 1966, 1970, 1971, 1979, 1985, 1987, 1989, 2016
Conference Tournament Titles: 7 1979, 1985, 1987, 1990, 2001, 2005, 2012
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 37 1949, 1953, 1965, 1966, 1970, 1971, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018
CWS Berths: 10 1971, 1979, 1981, 1985, 1990, 1997, 1998, 2007, 2013, 2018
Mississippi State 2018
Record: 39-29
Conference Record:  15-15 (SEC)
RPI: #28
SoS:  #10
Final Rank:  #4
Mississippi State 2019
Head Coach:  Chris Lemonis (1st Season)
Preseason Rank: #14
Pitching:
Although the 2018 staff posted a 104th ranked 4.40 ERA they were 7th in the country in strikeouts with 619. Freshman righthander JT Ginn was a first-round pick by the Dodgers but instead of signing decided to go to college. Look for Ginn to lock down a weekend rotation spot almost immediately. Junior lefthander Ethan Small will most-likely be the Friday starter as well with the third weekend spot still up for grabs.
Batting:  Outfielder Elijah Macnamee led the team in home runs with 8 in 2018. He has a major plate presence and hits with power. He is back and by all accounts took major steps forward in the fall. Center fielder Jake Mangum decided to forego the draft and return for his senior season, Mangum led the team with a .351 batting average.
Fielding:  Look for Jordan Westburg to step into the shortstop role while junior college transfer Gunner Halter will most likely step in at second base. Jake Mangum’s return will also provide much-needed leadership on a new-look team. The Bulldogs lack depth at most positions right now and will need new faces to step in immediately and make it happen.
Overview:  Mississippi State looked like a team that wasn’t going to make the postseason at all. Their coach was removed and an interim put in place and they had a losing record in the SEC. Then they swept Florida and snuck into the tournament only to lose 20-10 to Oklahoma in the Tallahassee Regional. The Bulldogs came out and won four in a row to win the regional and then beat Vanderbilt on their home turf in Nashville to make the College World Series. Mississippi State has a new full-time coach now, high energy Chris Lemonis from Indiana.

FRISCO COLLEGE BASEBALL CLASSIC

Sam Houston State Bearkats

Date & Time:  March 3, Sun: 3:00 p.m.
Location: Dr. Pepper Ballpark, Frisco, TX
Television:
Sam Houston State Baseball History
Division 1
Conference Titles: 7 1987, 1989, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018
Conference Tournament Titles: 6 1996, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2016, 2017
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 11 1987, 1989, 1996, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017
CWS Berths:  N/A
Division II
Conference Titles: 1985, 1986
NCAA Tournament Appearances:  1984, 1985, 1986
CWS Berths:  N/A
NAIA
Conference Titles: 1954, 1955, 1981, 1982
CWS Berths: 8 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1974, 1975
CWS Championship: 1963
SHSU 2018
Record: 39-20
Conference Record:  24-6 (Southland)
RPI: #54
SoS:  #88
Final Rank:  #52
SHSU 2019
Head Coach:  Matt Deggs (5th Season)
Preseason Rank: #40
Pitching:
Sam Houston State posted strong pitching numbers in 2018 with a team ERA of 3.80, good enough for 45th in the nation. Look for Hayden Wesneski, Riley Gossett, Nick Mikolajchak, Seth Ballew, freshman Matt Dillard, and rising sophomore righthander Landon Ausley to be contending for spots in the rotation. Ausley led the Bearkats in ERA with a 2.53 in 21.1 IP.
Batting & Fielding:  Even with a ton of returning seniors, the Bearkats will be playing freshmen at third base, shortstop, and at least one outfield position. Diego Davila appears to be the frontrunner for third base and is reportedly potentially going to hit in the three-hole as well.
Seniors Darien Simms and Clayton Harp will reappear in the outfield. In the infield, Riley McKnight, Chase Cryer, and Hunter Hearn will provide experience and production, while catcher Jordan Cannon returns as well.
Overview:  Sam Houston State has become basically a perennial NCAA Tournament team over the past decade. Fifth-year head coach Matt Deggs is the real deal and as many Tech fans will remember, he coached this team to a frustrating win in the Lubbock Regional in 2017 to end the Red Raiders’ season. In 2018 however, the Bearkats stayed home during the tournament despite an impressive conference record. An RPI of 54 held them down in the eyes of the committee, something SHSU appears determined to avoid this year based on their schedule. The Bearkats appear to be a dangerous team that is returning an incredible 11 seniors to the 2019 squad.

San Diego State Aztecs

Date & Time:  March 5-6
Tues: 8:00 p.m.; Wed: 4:00 p.m.
Location: Tony Gwynn Stadium, San Diego, CA
Television:
San Diego State Baseball History
Conference Titles: 5 1986, 1988, 1990, 2002, 2004
Conference Tournament Titles:  1990, 1991, 2000, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 14  1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1990, 1991, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018
CWS Berths:  N/A
SDSU 2018
Record: 39-21
Conference Record:  18-12 (Mountain West)
RPI: #28
SoS:  #10
Final Rank:  #48
SDSU 2019
Head Coach:  Mark Martinzez (5th Season)
Preseason Rank: N/A
Pitching
The Aztecs may have their best rotation in recent memory with Justin Goossen-Brown, Harrison Pyatt, Logan Boyer, and Casey Schmitt all healthy and vying for weekend roles. The Aztecs also have the benefit of adding Brad Wegman, a grad transfer from USC didn’t allow a run in nine appearances for the Trojans last season. SDSU may also have a stacked bullpen with multiple returners and some real quality. Casey Schmitt is a premier arm who boasted a 0.28 ERA in 2018 and also plays the hot corner for the Aztecs when he’s not pitching.
Batting In 2018 the Aztecs carried a team slashline of .301/.373/.438. Their batting average was 14th in the nation and their 373 runs scored was 54th. Their hitting will probably be led by Chad Bible, who is obviously a solid player because he has a great name. He hit a .327 with 9 dingers and 42 RBI in 2018.
Fielding Shortstop was the biggest battle in the Fall with USC transfer Angelo Armenta probably locking the position down. Center fielder Julian Escobedo is expected to have a big season in the field and at the plate, he’s a player that can do it all and brings a lot of speed to the base paths as well. The only open question mark for SDSU in the field is currently right field with two freshmen the most likely options.
Overview The Aztecs have become the torchbearer of the Mountain West, making the NCAA Tournament five of the last six seasons. For perspective, prior to the 2013 season, they had made the tourney only nine times in their history. SDSU appears to be more athletic than they were in 2018. They’re a free-swinging squad and they’ll use their speed and athleticism this season to create more havoc on the bases. Couple that with what appears to be a strong rotation and bullpen and they could be a team to watch in 2019, and a solid midweek test for the Red Raiders.

Wichita State Shockers

Date & Time:  March 8-10
Fri: 6:30 p.m., Sat: 2:00 p.m., Sun: 1:00 p.m.
Location: Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park
Television: Texas Tech TV
Wichita State Baseball History
Conference Titles: 20 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010
Conference Tournament Titles: 18 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2013
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 28 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2013
CWS Berths: 7 1982, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996
CWS Championships: 1989
Wichita State 2018
Record: 35-21-1
Conference Record:  9-14-1 (AAC)
RPI: #53
SoS:  #83
Final Rank:  #49
Wichita State 2019
Head Coach:  Todd Butler (6th Season)
Preseason Rank: N/A
Pitching
The Shockers posted a solid pitching performance in 2018 with a team ERA of 3.90, 513 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.3. These were good enough for 61, 46, and 53 in the country. Redshirt senior Willie Schwanke and senior Zack Lewis are the leaders of this rotation. They have several other potential quality arms that will need to step up but look for these two to lead the way.
Batting & Fielding The Shockers batted only .289 as a team in 2018 but first baseman Josh DeBacker is poised to take a big step forward and he will need to as they don’t have a lot of other answers at the plate. They are counting on a lot of returning players to make big strides at the plate this spring to move this team forward offensively. Dayton Dugas is one returner who can hit with power to all fields and they will need him to bring that versatility into 2019.
Overview Wichita State is a storied program in NCAA baseball with 28 NCAA Tournament appearances, 7 CWS berths, and a National Championship on their resume. The Shockers haven’t made the postseason since 2013 however, and even then had some wins vacated by the NCAA. Don’t count them out based on that though, this could be a turning point kind of season for Wichita State. They bring back a lot of seasoned pitching and a new pitching coach into 2019. The key for them will be to avoid injuries that have plagued them the last few seasons. I feel like the Shockers are pinning a lot of hope on returning guys that haven’t done much at the plate before. I think they may be headed towards a coaching change if Todd Butler can’t get things turned around this season.

Michigan Wolverines

Date & Time:  March 21-23
Thurs: 6:30 p.m., Fri: 6:30 p.m., Sat: 2:00 p.m.
Location: Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park
Television: Texas Tech TV
Michigan History
Conference Titles: 35 1899, 1901, 1905, 1918, 1919, 1920, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1928, 1929, 1936, 1941, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1961, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1997, 2006, 2007, 2008
Conference Tournament Titles: 9 1981, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1999, 2006, 2008, 2015
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 23 1953, 1961, 1962, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2015, 2017
CWS Berths: 7 1953, 1962, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984
NCAA Championships: 1953, 1962
Michigan 2018
Record: 33-21
Conference Record:  15-8 (Big 10)
RPI: #58
SoS:  #118
Final Rank:  #78
Michigan 2019
Head Coach:  Eric Bakich (7th Season)
Preseason Rank: #17
Pitching
The Wolverines’ pitching was somewhat better than their offense in 2018 but still not better than 110th in any category. Freshman Willie Weiss is a big-bodied athlete the Wolverines are excited about getting into games, and Steven Hajjar is another freshman that was drafted out of high school, he has a high upside but is rehabbing a high school injury. Altogether though, Michigan has a lot of question marks for what their rotation will look like in 2019.
Batting & Fielding Michigan’s offense was disappointing in 2018. They had a team laden with veteran players but injuries forced some freshman into action and they posted a team slashline of .244/.321/.326, none of which was ranked higher than 266th in the country. Catcher Joe Donovan had a strong outing in the Cape Cod League and looks to be a difference maker this spring. Outfielders Jordan Nwogu and Christian Bullock are two dynamic players that can make plays on the run. Michigan has questions to answer in the infield at this point.
Overview Michigan is ready to take the next step after a disappointing season that ended in the regional. Overall the feel of this team is that it’s ranked early because of potential and athleticism, but overall they have a lot of decisions to make about what team will be taking the field. The Maize and Blue have a strong baseball tradition and a lot of motivation to make a deep run, the question is if their team is ready yet to play at the highest levels.

Stetson Hatters

Date & Time:  March 24-25
Sun: 2:00 p.m., Mon: 1:00 p.m.
Location: Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park
Television: Texas Tech TV
Stetson History
Conference Tournament Titles: 7 1988, 1989, 1990, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2016
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 18 1982, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2016, 2018
CWS Berths:  N/A
Stetson 2018
Record: 48-13
Conference Record:  15-3 (Atlantic Sun)
RPI: #4
SoS:  #48
Final Rank:  #19
Stetson 2019
Head Coach:  Steve Trimper (3rd Season)
Preseason Rank: #39
Pitching
Stetson rode their arms to the super regional in 2018. Their ERA of 2.70 was 1st in the nation, 635 strikeouts were good for 2nd, and their WHIP of 1.1 was 1st as well. Unfortunately, the Hatters lost 5 of their 6 key arms from a season ago. Stetson will have an ace in lefthander Mitchell Senger who went 9-2 with a 2.51 ERA last years. He’s 6’7, 240lbs and he’s impressive.  JUCO transfer Robbie Peto looks like the frontrunner for the Saturday starting job and sophomore Austin Wood could be the key to recreating the 2018 magic. He had a 2.84 ERA in 11 relief appearances as a freshman but needs to prove he can transition into a starter. The Hatters will have several reliable arms in the pen as well.
Batting & Fielding Brandon Hylton, a 6’7, 230 lb lefty hitter has enormous upside and along with Mark Townsend could bring the power and pop the Hatters lacked offensively in 2018. Eric Foggo is another power hitter that may move from first to third to make way for Hylton. Mark Townsend brings switch-hitting pop and will most likely end up as the DH or a corner outfielder. Catcher Nick Cardieri has shown a rifle arm but has struggled at the plate. Finally, returning center fielder Jacob Koos is the top returning hitter and is the leader in the outfield.
Overview Stetson had nothing short of an epic season in 2018. They hosted a regional and made the first super regional in program history. While they lost players to the draft, a season like that can make a real impact on a team in recruiting and confidence. Look for the Hatters to put together an exciting team in 2019 with more offensive power and overall athleticism.

New Mexico Lobos

Date & Time:  April 2-3
Tues: TBA; Wed: TBA
April 23-24
Tues: 6:30 p.m.; Wed: 2:00 p.m.
Location: April 2-3: Lobo Field, Albuquerque, NM
April 23-24: Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park
Television: Texas Tech TV (2nd Series)
New Mexico Baseball History
Conference Titles: 9 1953, 1958, 1962, 1985, 2000, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017
Conference Tournament Titles:  1962, 2011, 2012, 2016
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 5  1962, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016
CWS Berths:  N/A
New Mexico 2018
Record: 20-33-1
Conference Record:  11-19 (Mountain West)
RPI: #163
SoS:  #49
Final Rank:  #161
New Mexico 2019
Head Coach:  Ray Birmingham (12th Season)
Preseason Rank: N/A
Overview New Mexico coach Ray Birmingham’s contract expired on June 30 but he worked on a month to month contract until December when he finally signed a three-year deal with UNM. This contract limbo followed a rare down season for the Lobos who have been a consistent contender in the Mountain West since Birmingham took the reins in 2008. Birmingham brought in new assistant coaches for 2019 and will have 29 players on the roster who have never appeared in a game for the Lobos, contrasted with only 17 returning players. To put it plainly, Birmingham hit the reset button on his team. He said it needed to happen to get guys competing and bringing energy to the team. We’ll see how it works out.

Duke Blue Devils

Date & Time:  April 16, Tues:1:00 p.m.
Location: Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham, NC
Television:
Duke History
Conference Titles: 9 1937, 1938, 1939, 1951, 1952, 1953,1956, 1957, 1961
Conference Tournament Titles:  1951
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 7 1952, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1961, 2016, 2018
CWS Berths: 1954
Duke 2018 
Record: 45-18
Conference Record:  18-11 (ACC)
RPI: #20
SoS:  #79
Final Rank:  #15
Duke 2019
Head Coach:  Chris Pollard (7th Season)
Preseason Rank: #20
Pitching
Starting pitching was Duke’s weakness in 2018, while their bullpen was a strength. Lefty Graeme Stinson will lead the rotation this year and Adam Laskey will most likely hop into the second spot. Laskey had a strong summer in the Cape but neither pitched in the fall in order to rest and build. Stinson could legitimately be special as a Friday starter. Stinson’s younger brother Cooper and Jack Carey are two freshmen who may vie for the Sunday job.
Batting & Fielding Replacing Griffin Conine and Jimmy Herron is no small task, but Duke has been on an upward trajectory for a while and they have pieces on their team to fill the void. Center fielder Kennie Taylor, Joey Loperfido who played first last year and will probably play second this year, both return to the lineup. The left of the infield will see two new starters in freshman Ethan Murray at short and possibly junior Erikson Nichols at third. Catcher Michael Rothenberg could emerge as the defensive star of this team show a plus arm and switch-hitting power to boot. Chase CHeek and Steve Mann join Taylor in the outfield for what could be one of the fastest in the nation and one they hope translates to the base paths as well.
Overview In my time as a college baseball fan, I don’t recall ever immediately disliking a coach more than Chris Pollard. His slow role to the mound, his constant complaining to umpires, and his apparent lack of any respect for the game of baseball drove me NUTS in the super regional in 2018. That being said, the Dukies had a good season. They won their first regional since the early 1960s after snapping their 55-year NCAA tournament drought in 2016. Make no mistake, this is not a reloading year for the Blue Devils. They are loaded with arms, power, speed, and athleticism and are poised to make some real noise on the national stage this season.

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros

Date & Time:  April 30-May 1
Tues: 6:30 p.m., Wed: 2:00 p.m.
Location: Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park
Television: Texas Tech TV
UTRGV History
Conference Titles: N/A
Conference Tournament Titles:  N/A
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1986
CWS Berths: 1971
UTRGV 2018 
Record: 23-31
Conference Record:  8-16 (WAC)
RPI: #236
SoS:  #218
Final Rank:  #202
UTRGV 2019
Head Coach:  Derek Matlock (2nd Season)
Preseason Rank: N/A
Overview
The Vaqueros present a change in midweek opponent from the Dallas Baptist and various New Mexico schools of most seasons. Former star and new Volunteer Assistant Coach Eric Gutierrez is from the deep south of the Rio Grande Valley and it’s nice to think about recruiting this area for the next Gute. The Vaqueros struggle to find ways to be competitive in the WAC. In 2018 They posted a team slashline of .243/.339/.338, none of which were better than 248th nationally. They do have the potential to field some quality pitching but lack the depth to extend their bullpen into the midweek, particularly in a two-game stand.

Florida International University Panthers

Date & Time:  May 7
Tues: 2:00 p.m.
Location: Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park
Television: Texas Tech TV
FIU History
Division I
Conference Titles: N/A
Conference Tournament Titles:  1999, 2010, 2015
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 11 1991, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2010, 2011, 2015
CWS Berths:  N/A
Division II
Conference Tournament Titles: 1991, 1998
NCAA Tournament Appearances:  1976, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982
CWS Berths:  1980
FIU 2018
Record: 26-28
Conference Record:  15-13 (Conference USA)
RPI: #136
SoS:  #72
Final Rank:  #118
FIU 2019
Head Coach:  Mervyl Melendez (3rd Season)
Preseason Rank: N/A
Pitching
Righthanders Christian Santana and Nick MacDonald spent their summer in the Cape Cod League and showed well with Santana having a big fall. Sophomore Logan Allen is most likely the Friday starter with Santana and MacDonald holding down the other two spots.
Batting & Fielding Third baseman Austin Shenton showed well in the Cape Cod League this summer and earned the 2018 D1 Baseball Summer Breakout Prospect award batting .375. Catcher Jose Garcia hit 13 dingers as a freshman and could be poised for a breakout year at the plate with the best power on the team and possibly in the conference. New shortstop John Rodriguez earned his spot with impressive play and freshman Jarrett Ford appears to have locked down center field. FIU fielded a strong offense in 2018 with a team slashline of .288/.370/.454 good for 43rd, 95th, and 22nd in the country. They will most likely build on this success with added power in 2019.
Overview Mervyl Melendez has been busy on the recruiting trail drawing national attention with the back-to-back best classes in Conference USA. Those classes haven’t translated to success in their record quite yet, but many feel that FIU’s time to make noise is coming. Texas Tech can’t sleep on this FIU team and their midweek pitching will be tested late in the season against the Panthers. This could end up being a high-scoring May affair at the Law.
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