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2009 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, 2008

The University of Southern Indiana baseball team hopes to keep rolling when it starts the 2009 season.

The Screaming Eagles are coming off a 2008 season that saw them win a conference regular season crown for the first time in 15 seasons, winning the GLVC West Division with a 24-7 mark. USI also posted a 36-20 overall record, reaching at least 30 wins for the second consecutive year, the first time since the 1993 and 1994 campaigns.

USI Head Coach Tracy Archuleta begins his third season with the Eagles and has won 79 of 122 games in his first two seasons at the helm. He will have a squad that has 13 returning players, five redshirted players from last season, and 11 newcomers.

The Pitching Staff
The key to any successful season always comes down to pitching and Archuleta has one of the best in finishing off games in senior All-American closer Shaun Larsen. Larsen, who was the NCAA Division II top reliever last season, broke the USI single-season and career records for saves with 17 a year ago.

To get to those late innings and Larsen, the Eagles will have a re-built starting rotation. Gone are Jeremy Kehrt, who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox after last seasonís All-GLVC performance, and Corey Julian, who was the number one starter a year ago.

Leading the returning pitchers will be senior right-hander Matt Nichols and junior right-hander Casey Geiger. Nichols successfully returned to the staff last season to post a 2-3 record and a 4.50 ERA in 11 games and seven starts after sitting out 2007 with an injury.

Geiger will be making the switch from the bullpen to the starting rotation this spring. He was steady out of the pen last year, going 7-3 with a team-best 2.75 ERA in a team-high 30 appearances. Geiger also was fifth on the team with 38 strikeouts in 55.2 innings of work.

Also returning to the staff this season is senior right-hander Michael Dewig and sophomore right-hander Trevor Leach. Dewig was 3-0 out of the pen with a 3.45 ERA, while Leach was a surprise last season going 1-1 with a 3.51 ERA.

The Eagles also will look to a pair of junior college prospects in junior right-hander D.J. Smith and sophomore right-hander Cody Brandenstein to contribute right away. Smith had a two-year record at Olney Central College of 7-2 with 62 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings pitched. Smith also had a 3.47 ERA in helping lead OCC to a 32-14 record in 2008.

Brandenstein, who saw action in three games out of the bullpen as a freshman at Wabash Valley College, was first team All-SIAC as a senior in 2007 after helping Mater Dei High School (Evansville, Indiana) to the 2007 Indiana State finals.

USI also has a stable of young arms on the staff Ė redshirt freshman Shad Macke and freshmen right-handers Zach Binder, Ross David, and  Ryan Lindquist -- that will vie for innings. David was 8-1 with a 1.30 ERA last season for Mt. Vernon High School (Mt. Vernon, Indiana) with 89 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings of work.

The Eaglesí infield has been solid the last two seasons and returns half of the starters from last season. Leading the way are senior pitcher/infielder Alex Thieroff and shortstop Wes Fink.

Thieroff, who will likely split time between third and first base this season was an All-GLVC third sacker last year after hitting .300. He also was second on the team with four home runs and 34 RBIs, while producing a team-best four triples.

USI also will look for Thieroff to contribute on the mound. Thieroff, who combined with P.J. Thomas in his first start to no-hit Oakland City University, had a 3.60 ERA in a pair of no-decision starts.

Fink batted .280 during his first season with the Eagles, tying for the team-lead with five home runs and driving in 31 RBIs.

Joining the infield crew is three redshirts from last season in sophomore Ben Griggs, freshman Chase Holzmeyer, and freshman Brad Vance. Vance saw action in two games last season before sitting out the season with an injury.

New to the program this year are junior infielder/right-handed pitcher Tyler Choate and junior third baseman Nick Jewell.

Choate, who is expected to be a starting pitcher in addition to seeing action in the infield, becomes an Eagle after two seasons as a Saluki at Southern Illinois University Carbondale as a dual position player. He produced a career batting average of .258 with 19 RBIs, 23 runs scored, and seven doubles in 51 games at SIU, while recording a 5-2 mark on the mound with a 4.29 ERA in 71.2 innings of work.

The major replacement of 2008 will be at the catcher. USI lost Garrett Oros, who expertly handled the pitching staff and made 90 starts the last two seasons.

One option to fill Orosí shoes is sophomore back-stop Nate Noland. Noland made 25 appearances last season, making 10 starts, and batted .273.

The Eagles also can turn to redshirt junior Kyle Rowley, sophomore transfer Dylan Mooney, and freshman Zach Wilkinson. Rowley came to USI from St. Catharine College (St. Catharine, Kentucky), where he batted .337 with 22 RBIs, 12 runs scored, and eight doubles before sitting out last season.

Mooney transferred to USI after a year at Saint Louis Community College-Meramec. He was the team captain as a freshman and batted .237 with eight RBIs in 35 games. The sophomore back-stop also had four doubles, one triple, and one home run during his first collegiate year.

The Eagles have a solid core of returning players in the outfield for 2008, led by All-GLVC outfielder/designated hitter Chad Werry. Werry was fourth on the team in hitting during 2008 with a .298 batting average, while tying for the team lead with five home runs. He also drove in 32 runs, while scoring 25 more.

In addition to Werry, the Eagles also return senior outfielders Royle Beach and Chad Bruce and junior outfielder/designated hitter Caleb Ehmke. Beach started 51 of his 54 appearances, batting .279 with 19 stolen bases, 32 runs scored, and 17 RBIs.

Ehmke made 41 appearances, 31 starts, and hit .287 after a slow start. He also knocked in 23 RBIs and scored 28 runs.

To supplement and add depth to the outfield, the Eagles have added junior transfer Brad Mangold.

Mangold came to USI after two years at Wabash Valley Junior College (Mt. Carmel, Illinois) where he batted .306 with 12 RBIs, six doubles, and three triples as a sophomore. He had a .311 batting average in 48 games with three home runs and 22 RBIs during his first season with Wabash Valley.







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