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Union baseball looking to return to NAIA nationals in 2010

JACKSON, Tenn. - 1/26/2010 - The Union University Baseball team is getting set to begin the 2010 season. Union opens play on February 6 at home versus Clarke (Iowa) College. The Bulldogs are receiving votes in the NAIA preseason rankings and are also selected to finish second in the TranSouth preseason poll. Union is coming off a season in which the Bulldogs captured the TranSouth Tournament Title and advanced to the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round.

2010 Season Outlook

The 2010 season for the Union University baseball program is starting with expectations higher that in recent years. The team is coming off a TranSouth Tournament Title and a trip to the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round. Union returns seven of eight starting position players with the only exception at the catcher position. Union also returns all three weekend starters from last season and the teams leading closer.

In addition to the standout returning class, Union head coach Brent Fronabarger has brought in a class of newcomers that brings with them several impressive resumes. Of the 25 man roster, nine new players will be added to the 16 players returning from last season.

The senior class is the largest class on the roster with eight players. Carl Harken and Grant Luke lead the way in their third seasons with the Bulldogs. Harken is the ace of the staff and is a two-time all-conference player. Luke post all-conference type numbers a year ago in a very competitive group of TranSouth outfielders. Josh Jones started last season in the designated hitter roll, but will move behind the plate as the No. 1 catcher to start the season. Brad Davis returns as a lefty pitcher that started weekend games and also pitched in relief in the conference. Alex Turner is back as the starting second baseman after a very productive 2009 season. David Maristany returns as the starting third baseman and was named a second team all-conference performer last season. Derek Blackwood returns after serving as a valuable utility guy that can play all three outfield positions and also saw time as a designated hitter and pinch runner. Corey Rudolph returns as the starting right fielder and is one of the team’s most complete players offensively, defensively and on the bases. Rudolph was a second team all-conference performer last season.

Union’s junior class boasts seven players that includes four returning players and three newcomers. Kevin Kirksey is back for his third season at Union and has seen action as a first baseman and designated hitter, but really proved his worth as the team's most valuable closer down the stretch in Union’s national tournament run. Ross Garrett also returns for his third year as a reliever on the Union staff. Andrew Haley is back for his second season after getting starts during conference weekends last season. Dan Beck is back for a second year with Union as an outfielder, but can also pitch. Beau Baker and Dustin Phelps begin their Union careers and will add depth on defense and pop in the lineup. Derek Copley is in his first year at Union and will compete for a weekend spot in the rotation.

The sophomore class has five players, with four of them back for a second season. Clint Barnes started last season in left field and played a key role in Union’s postseason success. Danny Grimm returns as the starting shortstop and leadoff hitter. Cody Dew is back after getting key relief appearances in 2009. Jeremy Stack returns after an eight-win season on the mound as a freshman. Tim Anderson is the lone newcomer of the sophomore class and will back up the catcher position to start the season.

Five freshman begin their college baseball careers this season, four of which will be mainly pitchers. Benjie Fesmire will serve as a pitcher and also be able to play second base for Union. Matt Daffin enters as another catcher. David Leisey, Jared Davis and Colin Hatch will be called on to contribute to the pitching staff in 2010.

Steven Aldridge
Phone: (731) 661-5027
Sports Information
Fax: (731) 661-5182

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