Dates: Fri., Feb. 18 vs. Air Force, 11 a.m.
Fri., Feb. 18 vs. Washington, 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 19 at Texas State, 3 p.m.
Fun., Feb. 20 vs. Nebraska, 11 a.m.
Site: Bobcat Baseball Stadium
Location: San Marcos, Texas
Radio: Nebraska broadcast available on Husker Sports Network
Live Audio: Texas State game - www.TXStateBobcats.com
Nebraska game - www.Huskers.com
Live Stats: www.MissouriStateBears.com
Live Video: None
The Missouri State baseball team opens the 2011 campaign this weekend at Texas State's tournament in San Marcos, Texas. The Bears play four different teams in Texas and will face nine different opponents in their first nine games of the year. Missouri State opens Friday at 11 a.m. against Air Force, then plays Washington at 7 p.m. Friday, Texas State at 3 p.m. Saturday and Nebraska at 11 a.m. Sunday.
Nine things to know about the Bears at Texas State...
1. Missouri State is 18-10 in season openers under Keith Guttin and 30-17 overall. The Bears have lost their last two openers.
2. Guttin enters his 29th season at Missouri State 41 shy wins shy of 1,000.
3. Missouri State has three preseason all-Missouri Valley Conference players in 2B Kevin Medrano, CF Aaron Conway and RHP Grant Gordon.
4. Fourteen of the 27 players on MSU's 2011 roster did not suit up for the Bears in 2010. Twelve of those are new to the program altogether.
5. The Bears are 1-0 all-time against Air Force, winning 17-4 in 2002 at UT Arlington's Tournament.
6. Missouri State has never faced Washington, though the Bears did go 7-2 against UW skipper Lindsay Meggs when he coached Indiana State from 2007-09. MSU is 3-6 versus Pac-10 schools.
7. MSU has never faced Texas State and is 25-23 against current Southland Conference members.
8. The Bears are 5-5 all-time against Nebraska, last winning a 3-2 contest in 2009 at Sam Houston State's tournament.
9. Missouri State opens the season in Texas for the ninth time in 11 years.
Air Force returns 24 lettermen from a team that finished 13-42 last season and 3-20 in the Mountain West Conference. The Falcons are picked to finish at the bottom of the MWC this season.
Washington mirrors Missouri State with more newcomers than returning lettermen on a team that went 28-28 in 2010 and 11-16 in Pac-10 play. The Huskies enter this season picked to finish last in the Pac-10, but return four position starters that had at least 28 RBIs last year.
Texas State is favored to win its third consecutive Southland Conference title and returns 12 pitchers and six position starters from a club that went 38-22 overall and 23-10 in conference in 2010.
Nebraska went 27-27 overall and 10-17 in Big 12 play last season. The Huskers return six position starters and 15 pitchers and welcome three pitchers to the roster who turned down professional offers to attend NU.
Previewing the Bears
Missouri State looks very different in 2011 than it did a year ago with 12 newcomers and two players coming off redshirt seasons comprising 14 of the 27 players on the roster. The Bears return five position starters, boast three preseason all-MVC performers and are picked to finish sixth in the league.
Junior second baseman Kevin Medrano leads the way after batting .410 a season ago to gain a first-team all-conference nod for a second consecutive year.
Senior center fielder Aaron Conway is also a preseason all-conference choice. Conway is a .286 career hitter with 11 homers and 50 stolen bases in 137 games.
Sophomore righty Grant Gordon rounds out the preseason all-league picks. Gordon either won or saved 11 of MSU's 21 wins last year while ranking seventh in the country with 11.89 Ks/9 innings.
Headlining a talented crop of newcomers are three participants in last season's JUCO World Series. Corner infielder Brent Seifert batted .485 and drove in 92 runs for national champion Iowa Western CC.
Kyle Hardy will play across the diamond from Seifert and batted .403 for Crowder College last year, which finished fifth at the JUCO World Series.
Dan Kickham was Hardy's teammate at Crowder and set the school record with 13 saves.
2010 in Review
Missouri State finished the 2010 season with a 21-34 overall record and 6-15 conference mark after entering the year with high hopes. The Bears sputtered to a 5-13 start before heating up over a 10-game stretch in March and April to the tune of a .343 team batting average and 7-3 record.
In the final game of that stretch, freshman catcher Luke Voit, who had 27 RBIs to lead the team by 10 at that point, went down with a thumb injury that kept him out until the MVC Tournament.
The Bears never recovered, going 9-18 the rest of the way.
Kevin Medrano earned first-team all-conference accolades, while Aaron Conway and Aaron Meade were honorable mention selections. Meade (10th round) was joined by fellow weekend starters Mike Kickham (6th) and Pat Doyle (24th) as MSU players chosen in the MLB Draft.
Coach Keith Guttin
Missouri State head coach Keith Guttin (Missouri-St. Louis, 1978) is in his 29th season as head coach of the baseball Bears and has a career record of 959-607 (.612). Guttin became the first coach at Missouri State (in any sport) to reach the 900-win mark with the May 11, 2008, win over Middle Tennessee at Hammons Field. In 2003, Guttin led the Bears to the NCAA Division I College World Series for the first time in school history. Guttin has been a conference Coach of the Year 10 times with four of those coming in the Valley and six coming during the Bears’ years in the Mid-Continent Conference. During Guttin’s tenure, the Bears have made seven Division I NCAA Tournament appearances -- six in the last 15 years.
All Missouri State games beginning March 15 and beyond will be broadcast on Meyer Communications stations with the exception of April 1 and 2 at Saint Louis and April 15 at Southern Illinois.
Art Hains will describe the action on KBFL 1060 AM and live over the internet at www.RadioSpringfield.com
Up-to-date schedule and station assignments can be found on the baseball schedule page at www.MissouriStateBears.com.
Three Bears made the preseason all-MVC team while Kevin Medrano was honored as a preseason third-team All-American by College Baseball Lineup.
Joining Medrano on the all-conference squad were senior outfielder Aaron Conway and sophomore pitcher Grant Gordon.
Bears on TV
Missouri State will have three games this season televised live on Mediacom Connection Channel 22 in Springfield. Mediacom will broadcast games against Wichita State (April 8, 6:30 p.m.),Arkansas (April 12, 6:30 p.m.) and Missouri (May 3, 6:30 p.m.).
New Rules For 2010
Several rule changes take effect in 2011, the most drastic involving bat specifications.
All bats must now meet a Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) standard. The BBCOR is a scientific test measuring how much energy the bat transfers to the ball on contact. It takes into account incoming ball speed, rebounded ball speed, as well as the weight and inertia of the bat during a swing.
Bats complying with the new guidelines also do not increase in performance after being broken in, unlike many of the composite bats used in recent seasons.
Two rules pertaining to pace of play include the stricter enforcement of the current 20-second rule between pitches without runners on base, while a 90-second limit between innings will be enforced for non-televised games.
Finally, a change in the obstruction rules now provides a fielder who has established himself the opportunity to field and throw without penalty.