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Raiders open season at Kennesaw State

MT plays doubleheader Saturday, game Sunday

February 14, 2014 · @MTAthletics

KENNESAW, Ga. - The Middle Tennessee baseball team opens up the 2014 season with a three-game series this weekend at Kennesaw State. The Blue Raiders and Owls will play a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday before playing a single game on Sunday at noon CT.

Saturday's games will both be nine innings. MT's Zac Curtis will oppose KSU's Jordan Hillyer in the first game, while the Raiders' Johnathan Frebis takes the hill against Travis Bergen in game two. In Sunday's series finale, Garrett Ring will be on the mound for Middle Tennessee, with Nathan Harsh getting the call for Kennesaw State.

Both teams begin their 2014 season on Saturday after posting .500 records a year ago. MT tallied a 28-28 record while the Owls went 30-30. Kennesaw State placed three players on the Atlantic Sun preseason team, including catcher Max Pentecost, who was named a second-team preseason All-American by Baseball America.

The Blue Raiders earned a spot on the Conference USA preseason team in the form of senior center fielder Ryan Stephens, who returns after hitting .329 for MT in 2013. In addition, both Curtis and Frebis earned Top 100 accolades for their respective classes from Perfect Game this week. The Raiders were picked ninth out of 13 teams in the preseason C-USA poll.

A live audio broadcast of all three games will be available on 92.5 FM (WMOT2) in Murfreesboro, and worldwide at GoBlueRaiders.com. Tony Abati and Miles McQuiggan will have the call for all three games.

NOTES (Full notes in PDF form above):

2013: RAIDERS SWEEP OWLS
MT and KSU played for the first time in 2013, a three-game set in Murfeesboro. Ryan Stephens went 5-for-10 with four RBI, while Jake Ellison hit 4-for-10 with a homer and four RBI. The Raiders outscored the Owls 22-4 in the three-game series.

CURTIS, FREBIS RECOGNIZED BY PERFECT GAME
Senior Zac Curtis and junior Johnathan Frebis made the Perfect Game Top 100 list for their respective classes in the rankings released this week. Curtis was named the No. 53 senior in the country, while Frebis was ranked as the No. 100 junior.

GEORGIA ON MY MIND
The Blue Raiders feature four players returning to their home state this weekend. Will Schnure, Michael Adkins, Benji Cash and Will Small all hail from the Peach State. Cash was a high school teammate of KSU pitcher Jordan Hillyer. In addition, this weekend's trip to Georgia is the first in 10 years for MT, who last visited Georgia for the 2004 Athens Regional.

MT TO PLAY SOUTHERN MISS ON FS1 APRIL 6
The Blue Raiders will face Southern Miss on Sunday, April 6 in Hattiesburg, Miss. In a game nationally-televised on Fox Sports 1. The game will be the first nationally-televised regular season game in MT program history.

STEPHENS PRESEASON ALL-C-USA
Senior OF Ryan Stephens was named to the Preseason All-Conference USA team after hitting .329 with 11 doubles, four triples and four homers in 2013, in addition to an .862 OPS and seven steals.

START ME UP
The Blue Raiders return the starting pitcher from 37 of their 56 games in 2013. Of those 37, 32 were started by this weekend's probable starters.

SENIOR LEADERSHIP
MT has four seniors in its projected starting lineup, 1B Trent Miller, 3B Hank LaRue, OF Ryan Stephens and OF Jake Ellison. Miller, LaRue and Stephens all enter their fourth year in Murfreesboro in 2014. The four position players are joined by two pitchers, Zac Curtis and Cody Tollison.

TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE
The Blue Raiders turned 64 double plays in 2013, which was 16th in the nation. However, MT's middle infield combo will need to be replaced in 2014, as second baseman Johnny Thomas and shortstop Ryan Ford both graduated.

MT VS. SEC
The Blue Raiders went 4-1 against the SEC in 2013, with two wins over in-state foe Tennessee and one each over Vanderbilt and Auburn. MT will play four games against the SEC in 2014, playing home-and-home series against both Vanderbilt and Tennessee.

BATTLES FOR STATE SUPREMACY
In addition to four games against Tennessee and Vanderbilt, MT will play home-and-home series against Belmont, Lipscomb and Austin Peay, in addition to two home games vs. Memphis.

LOCAL FLAVOR
The 2014 Blue Raiders boast four players from Murfreesboro, and 24 of the 34 players hail from the state of Tennessee. Of the Murfreesboro athletes, two hail from Riverdale HS (Ryan Stephens, Johnathan Frebis), one is from Blackman HS (Jonathan Sisco), and one is from Siegel HS (Brent Stockstill).

ANCHORS IN THE OUTFIELD
The Blue Raiders return two starting outfi elders who each started over 50 games in one outfield position in 2013. Ryan Stephens started all 56 games in center field a year ago, while Jake Ellison was the starting right fielder in 50 games.

UP NEXT: HOME OPENER
The Blue Raiders return to action on Tuesday, Feb. 18 when they open their home slate against Tennessee Tech at 3 p.m., in what will open a stretch of eight straight home games.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.