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2008 Baseball Season Outlook 

NCAA II Championship Series: 2007
NCAA II North Central Regional Champion: 2007
NCAA II Tournament: 1979, 1983, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2007
GLVC Championships: 1983, 1985, 1993
GLVC Regular Season Championships: 1992, 1993

The University of Southern Indiana baseball team enters 2008 hoping to to do something it has never had a chance to do in the history of the program: Return to the NCAA Division II National Championship Series.

The Screaming Eagles are coming off an incredible run to end the 2007 season. The squad won a school record 43 wins, reached the GLVC Tournament for the first time since 2001; won its first NCAA II North Central Regional after reaching the regional for the first time since 1995; and finished tied for third in the national championship series.

The Eagles reached all of these objectives in their first season under Head Coach Tracy Archuleta. Archuleta directed the Eagles to a 43-23 overall record last year, 25 victories better than the 18-33 mark in 2006.

For an encore, Archuleta will have 20 returning players and 12 newcomers in 2008.

A key to USI's run in the 2007 NCAA II Tournament was pitching. The USI hurlers were 6-2 in the tournament and had a 3.34 ERA in 70 innings of work.

USI senior LHP
Cory Julian

The Eagles look to senior left-hander Cory Julian to lead the staff and pick up where he left off last season. Julian 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, the Eagles return senior right-hander Jeremy Kehrt. Kehrt was a perfect 6-0 last season for USI, 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.

Returning starting pitchers joining Julian and Kehrt are sophomore right-hander Casey Geiger and junior right-hander Matt Nichols. Geiger attempts to make the move to the starting rotation after going 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA during his first season.

USI senior right-hander
Jeremy Kehrt

Nichols showed during fall practice that he had recovered from the arm injury that sidelined him last season and will be ready to take a shot at the starting rotation this spring.

To add depth to the starting rotation, Archuleta has added junior left-hander Patrick Crider and junior right-hander  P. J. Thomas. Crider comes to USI from John A. Logan College, where he was 2-2 with a 2.98 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 14 games.

Thomas transferred to USI from Wabash Valley College where he played for the Warriors the last two seasons. He was 6-5 last season with a 5.66 ERA in 16 games and 68.1 innings of work. The right-handed hurler also struck out a WVC-high 66 batters.

The Eagles even have added depth in the bullpen.

The projected closer is junior right-hander Shaun Larsen. Larsen, who originally signed with  Indiana State University out of high school, comes to USI from John A. Logan and was 2-2 with a 2.10 ERA in 16 games.

Another candidate for innings out of the bullpen is sophomore right-hander Derek Dever. Dever comes after playing for Johnson County Community College (Overland Park, Kansas) in 2006. He was 1-4 with a 4.14 ERA in 27 innings and 11 appearances.

Joining Larsen and Dever  in the pen are senior right-hander Aaron Schmitt, junior right-hander Michael Dewig, and freshman right-hander Trevor Leach.

The good news is USI returns three of four starters from last year's infield. The bad news is the only starter not returning is All-American second baseman Darin Mastroianni, who was drafted by the Toronto Bluejays after last season. 

USI junior infielder
Kevin O'Hair

Mastroianni was  a major part of the USI offense, batting .409 with an NCA A II-best and USI record 64 stolen bases in 2007. He also batted .516 in the NCAA II Tournament last spring.

A leading candidate to fill the hole up the middle is junior infielder Kevin O'Hair. O'Hair was USI's starting shortstop last season, setting a school record with 202 assists and combined with Mastroianni to turn 58 double plays. He also batted .248 for the season and .256 in the post-season.

Also returning in the infield are seniors Matt Pleiss and Josh Malone; and junior Alex Thieroff. Pleiss, who played first base last year, batted .291 during the season and tied for fourth on the team with 32 RBIs, while Thieroff improved his batting average 100 points to .290 with 32 RBIs and played a strong third base.

Thieroff, who could see time as a designated hitter and in the outfield, also batted .326 during the 2007 post-season and was second with six RBIs.

Malone, who also could see time as a designated hitter, raised his batting average 42 points last year to a career-high .272. He also had a career-high 18 RBIs.

USI junior infielder
Alex Thieroff

New to the infield during 2008 are junior Josh Huebner; and sophomores Wes Fink and Ben Griggs; and freshman Brad Vance.

Fink, a top candidate at shortstop, joins the Eagles after playing last season for Jackson State Community College (Jackson, Tennessee). He batted .297 with 35 RBIs and 13 doubles in his only season with the Generals.

Huebner, who could be utilized at multiple infield spots in 2008, has played the last two seasons for Wabash Valley College (Mt. Carmel, Illinois) after a standout prep career at North High School (Evansville, Indiana). The former All-Metro and All-SIAC performer batted .358 with 32 RBIs and12 doubles at Wabash in 2007.

The Eagles have a strong continent of back-stops for the 2008 season.

USI senior catcher
Garrett Oros

Returning from last year's squad are senior Garrett Oros and freshman Josh Jarboe. Oros, who batted .255 last season, handled the pitching during the entire NCAA II Tournament.

Giving the Eagles added depth behind the plate are juniors Kyle Rowley and Nate Noland.  Rowley comes to USI from St. Catharine College (St. Catharine, Kentucky), where he batted .337 with 22 RBIs, 12 runs scored, and eight doubles as a sophomore.

Noland transferred to USI from Olney Central Community College. He was named All-Conference in 2007 after hitting .438 in the conference and .373 overall as a sophomore in 2006.

A key to USI's tournament run last year was outfield defense, led by senior  Michael Beaven. Beaven, who started 64 of USI's 66 games, covered centerfield like a blanket. 

USI senior outfielder
Michael Beaven

 He also improved as a hitter, batting .248 with 47 runs scored, which was third best on the team.

USI will have a hole to file with the graduation of rightfielder Hunter Slade. Slade led the team with 64 RBIs a year ago.

Returning to play in the 2008 outfield are juniors Chad Bruce, Greg Horn, Chad Werry, and Keith Mercer. Werry, who saw action mainly as the designated hitter last year, batted .272 with 34 RBIs and was named to North Central All-Regional Tournament team during the championship run.

Horn, who raised his average over 80 points last season to .250, showed even more improvement during the fall and could contend for an outfield slot. Bruce makes the move to the outfield permanently after splitting time on the infield during his first two years.

New to the USI outfield are juniors Caleb Ehmke and Royle Beach. Ehmke transferred to USI after one season at Arizona Western College (Yuma, Arizona), where he batted .244 with eight RBIs and two doubles in 34 games for the Matadors. The Matadors were 33-22 overall in 2007.

Beach transferred to USI from Colby Community College where he batted .324 with 34 runs scored, 18 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases as a sophomore.







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