By Luke Servello, staff writer
With the MLB season likely to be delayed due to the lockout, college baseball is sure to get more attention. Xavier’s baseball team is coming off an impressive season and will look to build off of it.
The Musketeers will begin their season on Feb. 18 by squaring off with an SEC opponent right out of the gate, the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide posted a record of 32-26 last year (12-17 in the SEC) and should provide a good test for Xavier to begin the season.
Xavier, on the other hand, comes off a 28-26 (15-11 in the Big East) season, highlighted by a trip to the Big East Tournament championship.
The Musketeers had to beat Connecticut twice to take home the Big East tournament crown and head to the NCAA Tournament. Xavier won the first game 5-4 but lost the second game 10-6, ending their season.
UConn remains at the top of the Big East and was unanimously picked first in the Big East preseason poll. Xavier remains one of the teams in contention to knock them off their spot and were picked third in the poll.
If Xavier wants to return to the tournament, some players will need to step up, including Jerry Huntzinger.
Huntzinger was a big get for Manager Billy O’Conner in the offseason, as a graduate student from Seton Hall. Huntzinger is a catcher and was named to D1baseball.com’s preseason top 50 catcher list. Huntzinger brings a solid .264 career average and will be an important piece to this team.
Senior outfielder Andrew Walker had a .316 batting average last season, which led Xavier. Walker will be a key piece to Xavier’s outfield as a senior and could solidify himself as a pro prospect with another strong season.
Getting graduate student Trevor Olson back for one more season is huge for the team. Olson had a career-best season last year, posting a 2.97 ERA in 63 innings pitched.
Olson will look to help make up for the loss of Nick Zwack, who was selected in the 17th round of the MLB Amateur draft by the New York Mets. Junior Ethan Bosacker will be another key piece for Xavier’s staff this season. He had a 4-3 record in ten starts last season.
Xavier will look to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017 and certainly has a solid chance to do so with plenty of talent returning.