Play ball: Division I baseball teams open seasons this weekend
They are two of my favorite words in the English language – well, not separately, but certainly when used together.
At stadiums across America, Division I baseball programs will hear those words for the first time today and tonight.
Others at the non-Division I level have been able to get a head start on baseball season – such as, locally, Loyola and Delgado, which began their seasons last week and last night, respectively.
But around college baseball circles, this is Opening Day. And yes, it should be capitalized, because at some levels, it should be a holiday.
There are no shortages of local options to consider if you want to check out baseball this weekend.
LSU, ranked No. 1 or No. 2 nationally in all five of the major rankings, opens its season Friday night against ULM, with games against Air Force and Army to follow this weekend.
Tulane has a three-game series with George Washington, while the University of New Orleans welcomes Michigan State to town.
Southeastern and Nicholls both open at home as well, playing host to Louisiana Tech and Southern Illinois, respectively.
At the MLB Urban Youth Academy at Wesley Barrow Stadium, there is even more baseball with the latest renewal of the Andre Dawson Classic featuring primarily HBCU programs. Southern and Grambling are both here, while Saturday night’s matchup between Eastern Kentucky and Florida A&M – Dawson’s alma mater – will be televised nationally by MLB Network.
And Delgado continues its season-opening tradition of hosting the “Rags” Scheuermann Memorial Tournament through Sunday.
Baseball is a little different from other college sports in this regard – teams generally play 4-5 games per week, and things will evolve over the course of a season much more than in any other sport.
Can you imagine, for instance, Ed Orgeron only playing Joe Burrow in the first half of a season opener because he is on a “pitch count?”
The chance of seeing a pitcher throw a nine-inning complete game this weekend, especially in programs with deep enough pitching staffs, is fairly slim. Besides the aforementioned pitch counts, this is the first chance to see arms face a team wearing different colors, at least this spring, so coaches will take that opportunity to get a look at as many players as possible.
The regular season is a three-month grind, but that leads into conference tournaments, which leads to the NCAA 64-team tournament, which is now spread out over nearly a month with regionals, super regionals and a 12-day College World Series.
But there is only one Opening Day. And that is today. Play ball!
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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…