March 16, 2009

Baseball Opens League Season At Home Against Valpo This Weekend

March 16, 2009

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The First Pitch: Butler closes out a five-game road swing on Wednesday (March 18) when it travels to Terre Haute, Ind., for a 3:00 p.m. match-up with Indiana State. The Bulldogs then return home to kick off the Horizon League campaign on Friday (March 20) when they host in-state rival Valparaiso beginning at 3:00 p.m. at Bulldog Park. The two teams wrap-up the three-game set on Saturday (March 21) with a double-header beginning at 12:00 noon.

Coach Farley's Thoughts: "Kansas State was one of the best teams I've seen since I began coaching at Butler. We knew that this past week would be the most difficult 10 days on our schedule this year. We played eight games in six days against two teams that are getting votes for the Top 25, and we took on a Purdue team which is picked to contend for the Big Ten championship. It's tough taking your lumps against big-time competition, but if our guys remain mentally tough, it will make us better. We still have a lot of things to work on, but we've seen some good things happening. Matt Sokolowski and Jared Wagoner have both been solid on the mound and Colin Ziegel looks dialed in at the plate. We just want to keep getting better every day at this point as we lead up to our league opening series."

Getting Away With Stealing: The Bulldogs might not be the most aggressive team on the base paths in the Horizon League, but they do tend to have the most success when they do run. In fact, four Butler players have been perfect in their steal attempts this season, with senior Colin Ziegel boasting a 3-for-3 mark, senior Rick Betsch going 2-for-2 and sophomore Bobby Mosser and freshman Nick Hladek each going 1-of-1.

A Century Of Butler Baseball: The 2009 campaign will mark the 100th season of baseball at Butler University, a program which dates back to 1901. In 99-plus seasons, the Bulldogs have tallied a 1,145-1,342-11 (.461) all-time record, eight conference championships and a pair of NCAA tournament appearances.

Veteran Authority: Butler head coach Steve Farley, who enters his 18th season at the helm this year, has overseen some of the most successful years in Bulldog baseball history. Under his guidance, Butler claimed three regular season conference titles, two league tournament championships and a pair of NCAA tournament appearances. Currently the most veteran coach in the Horizon League, his 18th season this year will make him the second-longest tenured mentor in program history, trailing only Butler legend Tony Hinkle's 41 seasons. Farley's 428 wins in that time, meanwhile, are the most in school history.

Seniority Rules: The Bulldogs will not have to worry about any lack of veteran presence on the roster this season. Butler boasts 11 seniors on the staff, the most among the seven Horizon League schools.

Big-Time Non-Conference: A highly-competitive non-league schedule awaits the Bulldogs this season, featuring opponents from the Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Mountain West, Atlantic-10 and Missouri Valley. Butler took on UNLV in four games from March 6-8 and battled Kansas State in a four-game set from March 13-15. The Bulldogs will also play two games against Purdue during the year.

Professional Touch: The Bulldogs will get a small taste of professional baseball this season. Butler will host Dayton at Victory Field - home of the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians - on March 31 and will take on Horizon League opponent Milwaukee in a double-header at Miller Park - home of the Milwaukee Brewers - on May 14.

Bulldog Park Renovations: Bulldog Park, home of the Butler baseball team, will be undergoing some major improvements this year. Last fall, the field received a new pitcher's mound and home plate area, new laser-graded infield dirt and new sod around the first and third base, home plate and the mound. The crown jewel of the renovation project, to be completed this spring, will be a 6,000 square foot multi-purpose hitting facility that will feature four turfed indoor batting cages and pitching mounds, pitching machines, drill stations and a bathroom. The facility is already taking shape, as most of the framework is already in place down the left field line.

On Deck: Butler concludes a four-game homestand on Wednesday, March 25, when it welcomes IPFW to Indianapolis for a 3:00 p.m. contest at Bulldog Park. The Bulldogs then head east to Dayton, Ohio, for a three-game series against Horizon League rival Wright State, with a single game on Friday, March 27, and a twin-bill on Saturday, March 28.