Flying South for the Spring
Wed, Mar. 10, 2010 - [Baseball]
 
The 2010 Loras baseball season kicks off today in Auburndale, Florida on the road to defending their 2009 Iowa Conference championship. Below is a preview of the 2010 season. Follow the team online during their trip HERE.

The Loras College baseball team once again kicks off their season with the annual trip to Florida, this year playing eight games in five days. A weekend trip to the Metrodome for four games in late March precedes the Iowa Conference schedule which begins on March 26 when the Duhawks host Coe College at Petrakis Park. The Duhawks will look to defend their 2009 Iowa Conference regular season title beginning with the Kohawks, and do so with a mix of youth and experience - and without mainstays Nick Olberding (2009 MVP, 2X All-IIAC) and Adam Gross (2X - All-IIAC 1st Team).

Head Coach Carl Tebon, now in his 15th season, sees potential with the 2010 team.

"We've got some leaders returning to the lineup this year and we also have some guys who haven't played in a college game yet," Tebon said in February. "Like we always do, we want to learn as much as we can about our team early in March and get better as the season goes along. This year that will probably include some true freshmen, which wasn't so much the case with last year's team."

The leaders Tebon refers to are Ben Kuebel and John Schroeder - the only two seniors on this year's roster - and juniors Kyler Laurie and Austin Brown make up the list of co-captains for 2010.

Schroeder threw out nearly half of all attempts at stealing in 2009 and will catch the majority of the innings for the 2010 pitching staff. He also hit .347 and slugged .516 in 2009. Kuebel was an All-IIAC 1st Team pick a year ago after hitting .372, scoring 40 runs, and driving in 33. He was also 21-of-22 in stolen base attempts. Kuebel and Schroeder each started 37 games a year ago. Brown, expected to patrol center field in place of Gross, hit .316 with 14 extra base hits and 31 RBI in 38 games. Laurie tied the Loras record for wins in a season with 9 in 2009, only dropping one decision in 15 appearances. Opponents hit just .272 against Kyler, a team best for Dan Wellik's pitching staff.

First baseman BJ Juergens (38 hits in 38 games) and part time designated hitters Travis Olson and Clay Henricksen should also figure in the offensive production for the 2010 Duhawks.

Loras lost just one pitcher to graduation following the 2009 season. Joining Laurie in the rotation are junior Kevin Moriarty (89 K's in 128.2 innings in a Loras uniform), sophomore Austin Safranski (7-1 in 2009, team high 66.2 IP), and Cole Boge (14 appearances, 7 starts, 4 wins, just 17 walks in 58 IP). Other arms who will log some innings include returners Greg Farrey and Zack Schwartz and newcomers Nick Panvino, Ben Cottrell, David Nowaczyk, and Josh Kwasny. Eric Rife is also lined up to see his first action in a Loras uniform after completing the rehab that kept him out of uniform in 2009. Rife and Nowaczyk offer pitching coach Dan Wellik the left-handed options in 2010.

"We'll need some of our young guys to support what the older guys are going to provide for us for sure, but I think the staff is built for stretches like the Iowa Conference Tournament and even the Florida trip in some ways," Wellik said this preseason.

The middle of the infield also needs to be replaced after the graduation of both Olberding and Alex Miklo. There are also a couple of spots in the outfield for young players to step into and produce from. Potential contributors at those positions include Kevin Harlander (St. Paul, Minn./Roseville HS), Mike Canevello (McHenry, Ill./McHenry HS), Spencer Radabaugh (Dyersville, Iowa/Beckman HS-NIACC), and Calvin Rea (Cascade, Iowa/Cascade HS-NIACC).

The Duhawks scored over 300 runs, hit an IIAC-best 31 homeruns, were second in the league in stolen bases, and in the top half of the conference in fielding percentage - a formula that added up to the team's first Iowa Conference baseball championship under Tebon and first for the Duhawks since 1952. This year's ingredients are ready to be mixed up and sent out to defend that title beginning on March 10 in Florida and March 26 in Iowa.