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February 05, 2003

USI baseball to open 2003 on the road

While Major League Baseball players are waiting to begin spring training, the University of Southern Indiana baseball team is making quick preparations to begin the 2003 season Saturday and Sunday, February 15-16, at Carson-Newman College for a three-game series. The home opener for the Screaming Eagles is Thursday, February 20, when Oakland City University visits the USI Baseball Field for a single game.

In addition to Carson-Newman, the February road schedule will include a single-game at Murray State University Wednesday, February 19. At the friendly confines of the USI Baseball Field in February, the Eagles are scheduled host Purdue University North Central Saturday and Sunday, February 22-23, and Indiana University Southeast Thursday, February 27, along with the Oakland City contest.

The Eagles are under the direction of head coach Mike Goedde, the winningest coach in the history of the USI program. Goedde will have nine returning seniors to rely upon as he begins his 10th season at the helm.

The five senior position players covered the first five slots in the line-up in 2002. The heart of the order is outfielder Steve Owen (Wauwatosa, Wisconsin) and infielder/ outfielder Justin Konopacki (Ft. Wayne, Indiana).

Owen was a second team All-GLVC performer in his first season with the Eagles, hitting .327 with a team-best 40 runs scored and six home runs. He also was second on the team in RBIs, knocking in 27. Konopacki led the squad with 38 RBIs and was second on the team with a .347 average.

Setting the table for Owen and Konopacki is senior infielder Adam Schiff (Evansville, Indiana) and senior outfielder Andy Nucci (Ft. Wayne, Indiana).

Schiff continued to be one of USI's most consistent players in 2002, hitting .324 with 38 runs scored. The three-year starter and 2001 All-GLVC second baseman is a career .314 hitter. Nucci, a 2001 All-GLVC outfielder, battled through several injuries to hit .303 with 21 runs scored as a junior.

Returning in the fifth slot is senior catcher Paul Kohler (Arnold, Missouri). Kohler, who was selected for the CICL All-Star Game over the summer, hit .336 with 21 RBIs and a pair of home runs in his first season with the Eagles.

USI's leader on the mound is senior left-hander Brian Anderson (Brazil, Indiana). Anderson, who leads the USI returning hurlers with a 4-6 record in 2002, had a 3.86 ERA in 86.0 innings of work as a junior. He also led the team with 60 strikeouts.

Behind Anderson, the Eagles will look to senior right-hander Bowie Johnson (Brazil, Indiana) to step as a starter. Johnson had five starts in 17 appearances as a junior and produced a 3-3 record with a 6.40 ERA.

Another key to the USI pitching staff will be strong performances from senior right-hander Dan Tomashek (Ft. Wayne, Indiana) and senior left-hander Joe Stanisz (Highland, Indiana). Stanisz was 3-1 with a 4.63 ERA and a save in 16 appearances as a junior. The transfer from Iowa State University also struck out 19 batters in 23.1 innings.

The Eagles will open the Great Lakes Valley Conference season after the spring trip Saturday and Sunday, March 22-23, when they host the University of Indianapolis for a four-game series.

Ray Simmons, USI Sports Information

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