FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
CLARKSVILLE – Austin Peay State University’s baseball team recently wrapped up its fall practice schedule and head coach Gary McClure announced the program’s 2011 schedule, Thursday.
The Govs concluded their fall schedule before Thanksgiving and spent the largest portion of the slate bringing their 16 newcomers into the fold. In addition, Austin Peay saw seniors Jack Snodgrass and Ryne Harper, junior Greg Bachman and freshman Alex Belew return to the team after missing portions of the 2010 campaign.
That group joins a roster that will include 14 returning lettermen. However, the Govs only have five staring position players returning and will have to replace their entire outfield, which was lost to graduation. Austin Peay does return six pitchers who made an appearance last season.
Leading the group of returnees will be junior infielder/outfielder Jon Clinard, who was a second-team All-Ohio Valley Conference selection last season, as well as first baseman John Hogan and outfielder Cody Hudson, who were each OVC All-Freshman team honorees.
“I went into the fall thinking that it was going to be very tough due to all the new faces and all the teaching we would have to spend our time on,” said McClure. “However, I was excited to learn that we had young guys who were already very physical and very advanced in the mental aspects of playing the game. So in the end, I was very happy with how the fall went as well and how our players picked up on things. Our intrasquad contests were very competitive on a daily basis and our Red vs. White World Series was extremely intense and played very well. I think this will be a team that fits my personality as a coach and will have a chance to be successful if they continue to work hard.”
McClure and the Govs now turn their attention to the 2011 schedule which begins Feb. 18 when they host Valparaiso in a three-game series. APSU will play 10 of its first 12 games at Raymond C. Hand Park, including the Austin Peay Classic with Illinois State and Milwaukee, Feb. 25-27, and the Governors Invitational with Eastern Michigan and Alabama A&M, March 4-5.
“I am eager to get started with the 2011 baseball season,” McClure said. “We will play our usual demanding schedule that will prepare us for a very tough OVC season, the tournament and, hopefully, an NCAA Regional. Along with the OVC schedule, we will play teams from many of the top leagues in the country.”
Austin Peay will travel to Mississippi, March 1-2, for its only two road contests during that opening stretch. The Govs also will have key weekend series at Arkansas State and Illinois State before OVC play begins in late March.
Another key March fixture will be a March 16 night contest against Tennessee at Raymond C. Hand Park. It will be the first time the Vols have visited Raymond C. Hand Park.
“There is no doubt the schedule will be challenging, but that’s the way I prefer it,” McClure said. “We have Tennessee coming to Clarksville for the first time. It’s not easy to get an SEC team to play away from home, so I am grateful to their coaching staff for being willing to do this. This should be an exciting game for both our players and the city of Clarksville. It is my hope we can make this into a great event.”
In addition, the Govs will continue their home-and-home series with regional opponents Belmont, Evansville, Lipscomb, Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky.
The OVC slate begins with a three-game series at Murray State, March 26-27. In addition to that road trip, Austin Peay will travel to 2010 OVC tournament champion Jacksonville State (April 16-17), Morehead State (April 30-May 1) and UT Martin (May 20-21). The Govs will host Eastern Illinois (April 2-3), Eastern Kentucky (April 9-10), 2010 regular-season champion Tennessee Tech (May 7-8) and Southeast Missouri (May 14-15) at Raymond C. Hand Park.
The top six teams at the end of the OVC regular-season race will qualify for the 2011 OVC Baseball Championship, which again will be held May 25-29 at Pringles Park in Jackson.