Big Ten Baseball Opens 2010 Season on Friday
Feb. 18, 2010
The 2010 college baseball season begins Friday, featuring seven of the conference’s 10 programs in action over the weekend.
Defending Big Ten Champion Ohio State leads the conference in the national rankings, placed as highly as No. 14 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. The Buckeyes return the conference’s 2009 Player and Co-Pitcher of the Year, catcher Dan Burkhart and right-hander Alex Wimmers. Both have been tabbed preseason All-Americans by several organizations. Ohio State begins its title defense in Jacksonville, Fla., opening against North Florida on Friday before facing Florida A&M on Saturday and Richmond on Sunday.
Also ranked by several outlets, Minnesota opens its season with a three-game series against Akron at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla., the Spring Training home of the Minnesota Twins. Among the Gophers’ top returners are pitchers Seth Rosin and Scott Matyas, shortstop AJ Pettersen and outfielder Mike Kvasnicka, all of whom earned All-Big Ten recognition a season ago.
Another team receiving national attention, Michigan will open its season with games against Jacksonville State and Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, this weekend. Leading the Wolverines is preseason All-American Ryan LaMarre and first-team All-Big Ten first baseman Mike Dufek.
Illinois was scheduled to open its 2010 campaign at home against Bradley, but snow in the area forced the games to be canceled. Among Illinois’ returners is sophomore outfielder Willie Argo, a member of the 2009 Big Ten All-Freshman and All-Big Ten second teams.
Reigning Big Ten Tournament Champion Indiana kicks off its season with a four-game series at San Diego. The Hoosiers welcome back 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year designated hitter Alex Dickerson, as well as first baseman Jerrud Sabourin. Both were second-team All-Big Ten selections last year.
Iowa opens its season on Saturday in Clarksville, Tenn., facing Illinois State and Austin Peay. Among the Hawkeyes’ returnees is senior outfielder Ryan Durant, a first-team All-Big Ten selection last year.
After making its first Big Ten Tournament since 2004 last season, Michigan State will rely on the arm of sophomore pitcher Tony Bucciferro, an All-Freshman Team honoree in 2009. The Spartans open their season in Greenville, S.C., where they will face Furman, nationally ranked Clemson and Miami (Ohio).
Northwestern will also open its season in South Carolina, heading to Rock Hill to face George Mason, Winthrop and Marist. The Wildcats will once again ride the arm of left-hander Eric Jokisch, the 2008 Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Penn State was scheduled to open its 2010 campaign in Farmville, Va., with games against Coppin State and Longwood, but saw its season-opening games canceled due to snow. The Nittany Lions are led by third baseman Jordan Steranka, an All-Conference and All-Freshman Team selection in 2009.
Purdue will open its season next weekend at the second annual Big Ten/Big East Baseball Challenge in Clearwater, Fla. The Boilermakers return all three of their weekend starters, including three-time All-Big Ten selection Matt Bischoff. Also back for Purdue is sophomore second baseman Eric Charles, an All-Conference and All-Freshman Team honoree last year.
The 2010 Big Ten baseball season will feature unprecedented broadcast exposure, with up to 44 games shown live on the Big Ten Network or www.BigTenNetwork.com. For the second straight year, every game of the Big Ten Baseball Tournament will have national television coverage. The 2010 Big Ten Baseball Tournament will be played May 26-29 at Bill Davis Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
For more information on Big Ten baseball, visit the Big Ten Baseball Blog at http://www.bigten.org/blog/baseball/.