MOBILE, Ala.-- The University of Mobile baseball team will kick off its 25th season of competition Friday, Jan. 31 with a 2 p.m. doubleheader against St. Catharine at Jacobs Field.
This will be the first season the team can play night games at the University of Mobile.
"The lights have been such a positive thing," Head Coach Mike Jacobs said. "I didn't anticipate the excitement it would generate with our team. We have practiced several times under the lights and it really elevated the team. Also, it will hopefully allow more of the community and student body to come out."
Mobile is coming off a 35-21 season and a trip to the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament. The 35 victories is the most in the last five seasons.
While Mobile is losing 2013 Honorable Mention NAIA All-American Ryan Parazine (.410 BA, 18 2B, .493 OBP) and staff ace Shane Ikner (6-6, 3.76 ERA, 88.2 IP), the team returns 13 letterwinners from last season's squad.
"We are very excited about the start, we feel like we've got a lot of position players that can play multiple positions, and pitching wise, we probably have more starters than we've had before, where there's not a big difference between No. 1 and No. 4," Jacobs said.
Among the key returners are 2013 SSAC All-Conference selection Braxton Hamil (.379 BA, 7 HR, 59 RBI), 2013 SSAC All-Division selection Jared Brannon (.338 BA, 60 R, 19 SB) and 2013 relief ace Jeffrey Price (1.86 ERA, 28 GP, 48.1 IP). Infielder Neil Hudson and catcher Philip McDuffie also return to help anchor the lineup.
"We will swing the bat well and we have some guys with some pop in Neil Hudson, Braxton Hamil, Angelo Bruno, Keith Granger and Jacob Knowles," Jacobs said. "We also have good team speed, led by Jared Brannon and Tayler Hardy, and we will look to put pressure on teams by running the bases and stealing bases."
"We would like more depth in the pen, but we will have some two-way guys helping out with Payne Palmer, Trey Cockrell and Austin Curtis," Jacobs said. "Between that and the other eight pitchers I think we have enough."
The games will mark the beginning of a 53-game regular season that concludes Apr. 25 at Southern Poly and features 30 home games.