Jan. 3, 2011


Opening Weekend just six weeks away

by Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


Now that we have passed the holiday season and turned the calendar to 2011, we can anticipate the start of the college baseball season, which is just six weeks away.


There are many intriguing match-ups to kick-off the 2011 campaign on Friday, Feb. 18. At the top of the list is Stanford playing a three-game set at Rice. Both teams were #2 seeds in the 2010 NCAA Tournament and both hope to be in consideration to host this year. Owl third baseman Anthony Rendon (right) is one of the top hitters in the nation and the junior could be the first pick in this year’s MLB draft. Junior left-hander Taylor Wall should anchor Wayne Graham’s pitching staff. Sophomore infielder Kenny Diekroeger will pace the offense for the Cardinal, while juniors Brett Mooneyham (LHP) and Jordan Pries (RHP) lead the hurlers for Mark Marquess.


Barring suspension, FIU junior shortstop Garrett Wittels (left) will have a chance to break the NCAA Division I hit-streak record against Southeastern Louisiana. Wittels finished the 2010 campaign with a 56-game hit streak, two away from Robin Ventura’s mark of 58, set in 1987. Wittels batted .413 a season ago in 56 games with 100 hits, 21 doubles and 60 RBI. He walked 22 times with just 19 strikeouts. Wittels was charged with rape in the Bahamas in late December and could face disciplinary action from the school or the NCAA.


Several teams hope to start and end the season with a strong RPI. Vanderbilt will head to the West Coast to face San Diego and San Diego State. Oral Roberts will travel to Baylor and Elon visits NC State in battles of 2010 NCAA tourney teams. USF will play a three-game series at Florida. Oregon will head across the water for a four-game set at Hawaii. Other key series include Cal State Fullerton against Long Beach State, Kent State at Georgia Tech, Kansas at TCU and New Mexico at Arizona State.


There are several interesting tournaments on Opening Weekend. The Big East/Big Ten Challenge will be held on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Connecticut, Louisville and Minnesota hope to build on successful 2010 campaigns with strong starts in the Sunshine State. USC will entertain North Carolina, Missouri and Cal Poly in Southern California. The Tar Heels will also play at Cal State Fullerton while on their West Coast weekend. Auburn will host Virginia, UAB and Arkansas State. Fresno State will welcome Oregon State and Gonzaga. Coastal Carolina will entertain Virginia Tech, Boston College, Indiana and Tennessee Tech in Conway and Myrtle Beach.


So don’t let the winter blahs get you down. Baseball is just around the corner.


(photos courtesy of Rice and FIU Media Relations Offices)