The Ottawa University baseball team opened its second year under coach Gabe Grinder on Friday with a doubleheader against Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Texas.
It is the first meeting between the two programs. The two teams will conclude the four-game series Saturday with another doubleheader. Ottawa’s home opener is Feb. 15 against Morningside.
Ottawa went 20-26 overall and 10-23 in the KCAC in Grinder’s first campaign. Ottawa returns eight players and has 24 newcomers. Three All-KCAC selections return for the Braves, KCAC Freshman of the Year and Second Team All-KCAC selection Jeremiah Arellano and Honorable Mention All-KCAC selections Elliot Antonetty and Stephen Norrell.
Norrell set the Ottawa single-season record of pitching appearances (26) and saves (11). The team broke the OU school record in single season-record for steals (116), ERA (4.45), opponent strikeouts (321), and saves (13).
Ottawa’s roster has eight seniors, 15 juniors, four sophomores and five freshmen. The seniors are Antonetty, Kyle Banister, Merrick Brown, Eli Crall, Rylan Cratsenberg, Jared Gary, Sheldon Paramore and Reece Skiles. Juniors are Yadiel Cruz, Abner Diaz, Jakob Edwards, Jordan Henning, Benjamin Koler, Dylan Miller, Joshua Myer, Norrell, Yaniel Ramos, Austin Skelhorn, Zachary Spradlin, Tulie Tuafahema, Jonathan Ward, Austin Warfel and Logan Zozaya. Sophomores include Arellano, Bailey Dorr, Jeremy Husband and Logan Leadley. The freshmen are Angelo Florendo, Evan Higgins, Calvin Johnson, Braden Scheer and Grant Smith.
The Braves were picked to finish eighth in the KCAC by the conference coaches in the KCAC coaches poll.
SAGU opened the season with a 3-1 mark in a four-game series against Randall University.
SAGU has played a series against a KCAC team since 2015. The Lions are 2-11 in those games.