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Baseball Starts Fall Practice

September 19, 2005 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Head coach Steve Peterson began his 19th season at the helm of the Blue Raider program Sunday when he welcomeed more than 50 players for the four-week fall practices.

Middle Tennessee returns 20 letterwinners, including six starters and seven pitchers, from last year's 32-23 club. The Blue Raiders finished fourth in the Sun Belt in 2005 and lost in the SBC Tournament championship game to South Alabama, falling just one game short of making the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in six seasons.

"We've had three weeks of conditioning with all of the varsity players, newcomers and walk-ons," Peterson said. "We have a good nucleus of returning players, guys that know what it's like to play on a championship level. Our goal is to have as many intrasquad scrimmages as possible during the four weeks of fall practice to evaluate everyone properly."

Peterson must replace most of the infield from last season, with the departure of seniors Eric McNamee, Nate Jaggers and Josh Archer. Senior Jeff Beachum will start for the fourth straight year at shortstop and junior Michael McKenry gets the call for the second straight season behind the plate.

Redshirt freshman Rawley Bishop and junior Wayne Kendrick will get every opportunity to fill positions at third and second base, respectively, while first base will be an open race probably right up until opening day in February.

The Blue Raiders return outfielders Nathan Hines, Marcus Taylor and Adam Warren, as well as Todd Martin, who started the year in centerfield before injuries limited him to the designated hitter role. Martin had offseason surgery and will miss all of fall practice, as will Warren, who had surgery last week to repair an old injury.

On the mound, the Blue Raiders were decimated by a myriad of injuries, transfers and other oddities before the start of last season, but return seven hurlers to the staff from 2005. Matt Scott, who posted a 10-1 record with a 3.07 ERA in 14 starts, leads the club on the mound along with a host of newcomers.

Middle Tennessee inked 10 players to national letters-of-intent for this season, including pitchers Brett Reilley, Langdon Stanley, Brandon Brokaw, Brett Smalley and Chad Edwards. Allan Woodward, who finished last year 5-1 with four saves, also returns at the back end of the bullpen.

The Blue Raiders will work out for four weeks, concluding October 12-14 with the Blue-White World Series. All practices and scrimmages are open to the public and begin at 2 p.m. on weekdays, though construction will continue on the installation of a new lighting system at Reese Smith Field. A temporary wall has been installed for fall practices, with a permanent replacement set to go up at the end of October.

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