The Tennessee Tech baseball team will start its 2011 season tomorrow when it plays Virginia Tech, Costal Carolina and Boston College in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Expectations are high as the team looks to continue the success it have had the past few seasons under head coach Matt Bragga.The Golden Eagles were last year’s Ohio Valley Conference champions. In 2009, they won the OVC tournament and made an NCAA Regionals appearance. Bragga was named the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year and OVC Coach of the Year in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
Preseason accolades also raise the expectations for this year’s Golden Eagle baseball team. Senior center fielder Chad Oberacker has been named to three preseason All-America teams.
He was named first team All-American by College Baseball Lineup, second team by Louisville Slugger, and third team by the National Collegiate Baseball Writer’s Association.
“It’s great to have this momentum headed into the season,” Oberacker said.” It’s only going to make us step up more and work harder.
“It’s a huge honor to be recognized before the season even starts, and it’s a really big reflection on my teammates,” Oberacker added. “We worked hard all last season as a team to keep getting better and finish where we did, and the team deserves credit for that.”
He led the team in several offensive categories last year including batting average (.452), runs scored (67), hits (108), doubles (29), triples (5), stolen bases (14), total plate appearances (281), and at-bats (239).
He was second on the team in slugging percentage (.690), on-base percentage (.527), runs batted in (79), and total bases (165), all behind A.J. Kirby-Jones. He finished third in home runs (60) and walks (34).
Oberacker was also selected in the 19th round of last year’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Three of his teammates from last season’s team were also drafted. Stephen Pryor was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the fifth round, Kirby-Jones by the Oakland A’s in the ninth, and Adam Liberatore by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 21st.
The Golden Eagles baseball team is coming off three consecutive 30 win seasons, going 35-23-1 in 2008, 31-24-1 in 2009 and 31-25 last season. They hope to continue that success this season.
The team returns eight starting position players from last season and five members of the pitching staff. It also adds 13 freshmen to its active roster, including four that were redshirted last year.
This year’s squad will be led by eight seniors: Frankie Beech, Wade Bilbrey, Jared Dobbs, Casanova Donaldson, Seth Edwards, Oberacker, Trice Powers, and Devin Rivers.
The home opener will be Feb. 23 against Middle Tennessee State at Averitt Express Baseball Complex. The conference opener will also be at home against Jacksonville State April 2.
For a full schedule and roster, visit www.TTUSports.com.