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February 04, 2008

USI opens 2008 baseball season at Armstrong Atlantic
Eagles hope to return to national championship series

EVANSVILLE, Ind. The 10th-ranked University of Southern Indiana baseball team opens the 2008 season Saturday at Armstrong Atlantic State University with the hopes of making a return trip to the NCAA Division II National Championship series. The Screaming Eagles and the Pirates will play a 10 a.m. (CST) doubleheader Saturday and a 10 a.m. single game Sunday in Savannah, Georgia.

USI finished 2007 with its first NCAA II North Central Regional crown and a third-place showing in the championship series in the Eagles first season under Head Coach Tracy Archuleta. In addition to its tournament success, the Eagles were a school-record 43-23 overall and placed second in the GLVC.

The key to success in 2008, as it was in 2007, is pitching. USI will start the season by leaning heavily upon senior left-hander Cory Julian (Lynnsville, Indiana) and senior right-hander Jeremy Kehrt (Plainfield, Indiana).

The Eagles want Julian to pick up where he left off last season when he led the staff with a 2.10 ERA and tied a USI single-season record for wins with an 8-3 record.

The senior southpaw also was nearly perfect in the post-season (GLVC and NCAA Tournament) going 3-0 with a 0.32 ERA and 21 strike outs in 28 innings of work. Julian did not allow a run in the NCAA II Tournament and was 2-0 with a save. He was recognized for his efforts by being named to the All-Regional Tournament and All-Championship Series teams.

On the right side of the mound, Kehrt was a perfect 6-0 last season after becoming a part of the starting rotation for the first time as an Eagle. He also was named to the All-Regional Tournament team after pitching eight shutout innings in the North Central championship game.

Offensively, the Eagles return six starters from last year's line-up. Leading the way is senior first baseman Matt Pleiss (Newburgh, Indiana), senior centerfielder Michael Beaven(Indianapolis, Indiana), and senior catcher Garrett Oros (Aurora, Illinois). Pleiss batted .291 during the season and tied for fourth on the team with 32 RBIs, while Beaven covered centerfield like a blanket and batted .248.

Oros, who batted .255 last season, handled the catching duties during the entire NCAA II Tournament.

Armstrong Atlantic State, which has started the year 3-0, leads the all-time series against USI 8-1. The last time the two teams met was in 1990 when the Pirates swept a two-game series from the Eagles in Savannah.


Ray Simmons, USI Sports Information


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