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SHSU baseball suits up for 2014 season

Contributing Reporter

Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014

Updated: Thursday, February 13, 2014 00:02

Baseball

Alex Broussard | The Houstonian

Defending the Southland Conference Championship, Sam Houston State University closed out their 2013 season 1-2, ending their run at the NCAA Regionals.

Now as the two-time SLC champions, SHSU baseball is kick starting their 2014 campaign with a four-game series against Western Athletic Conference newcomers, Northern Colorado University.

Although The Bearkats are slated as the SLC frontrunner for 2014, head coach David Pierce said the 2013 NCAA Regionals was the spark that has pushed the Bearkats to start with high expectations.

“We left the Baton Rouge regional with the intent of getting bigger, faster and stronger, and our team has done that throughout the summer and fall workout,” Pierce said. “2014 is a new year, and we are ready to go.”

This is Pierce's third season at SHSU, and he has already garnered two conference regular season titles, two Southland Conference Coach of the Year Awards, one regional Coach of the Year award and two trips to the NCAA regionals.

This year is the first season Pierce has had a team with more upperclassmen, a trait senior outfielder Luke Plucheck said he is excited about.

“The first goal is to get the three-peat conference championship, and win the conference tournament,” Plucheck said.  “Ultimately, we want to get past the regionals this year. We have been there twice. We know what it takes, and I think we are ready with this team this year.”

Northern Colorado is picked to finish in the bottom tier of the WAC despite first conference team pitcher Kevin Willman, and first team infielders Nick Miller and Colby Harrison solidifying strength in their lineup. The Bears finished the 2013 season 33-24 with a team batting average of .291.

Last week, a vote between SLC head coaches and sports information directors both chose Sam Houston as over-whelming pre-season favorites for the conference title.

Led by six pre-season All-Southland Conference players, including first-team All-Conference Plucheck and Anthony Azar, the Bearkats hope to make the NCAA regionals for the sixth time in eight seasons.

“We all have each other's back, and we know we have the right players and right team to do it this year,” junior pitcher Tyler Eppler said.

Opening pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Don Sanders Baseball Stadium with games two, three and four spanning through Monday.

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