APSU Sports Information
Clarksville, TN – The 2016 Austin Peay State University baseball team will open its campaign when it hosts Missouri Valley Conference foe Bradley in a three-game series, Friday-Sunday, at Raymond C. Hand Park.
The season opener is set for a 3:30pm, Friday first pitch followed by 1:00pm contests both Saturday and Sunday.First-year head coach Travis Janssen will field an experienced squad with 23 returning letterwinners dotting the roster. In fact, the entire opening-day probable defensive lineup is composed entirely of players that started 28 or more games last season.
APSU’s offense returns every hitter that saw an at-bat in 2015, including junior third baseman Logan Gray, who was named the Ohio Valley Conference’s Preseason Co-Player of the Year. In addition, junior second baseman Garrett Copeland will look to extend his streak of 107 consecutive starts with an opening day nod.
On the mound, three starting pitchers return among a group of nine returnees. Junior right-hander Alex Robles, a double first-team All-OVC pick in 2015, has earned the nod as the Govs opening day starter after leading the team with a 6-3 record in 11 starts last season. He will be followed by left-handers Michael Costanzo (third career APSU start) and Zach Neff (third career start).
Following its season-opening series, the Govs will host Southern Illinois in a 3:30pm, Tuesday contest. Freshman left-hander Josh Rye has been penciled in as the starter in what would be his first appearance in an APSU uniform.
For the first time since 1988 a new face will guide the Governors into a season with first-year head coach Travis Janssen coming to Austin Peay after four seasons at Division II Northeastern State (Oklahoma). The Govs offense ended 2015 as one of the nation’s top units, ranking among Division I’s Top 25 in batting average (11th, .304), runs per game (12th, 7.1), doubles per game (14th, 2.24), home runs per game (11th, 1.12), slugging percentage (7th, .474), on-base percentage (9th, .400) and stolen bases per game (23rd, 1.63).
Junior second baseman Garrett Copeland carries a 32-game streak reaching base safely into 2016, the sixth longest such streak by a Governors hitter since 1996. Junior catcher Ridge Smith will bring a 10-game hitting streak and a 15-game streak reaching base safely into the new season.
Junior third baseman Logan Gray was a Third-Team Preseason All-America selection by D1Baseball.com and will look to build on a sophomore campaign that saw him hit 14 home runs in 38 games. Junior first baseman Dre Gleason was second on the team with a .349 batting average last season and brings a streak of 15 games reaching base safely into 2016.
Senior shortstop Clayton Smithson saw his 2015 campaign interrupted by an hand injury which limited him to 37 games played and a .241 batting average. Junior left fielder Cayce Bredlau led the Govs with 11 multi-RBI outings in 2015 and had 16 multi-hit affairs.
Senior Patrick Massoni will get the nod to open the season in center field where he made 26 of his 37 starts last season, finishing his first APSU season with a .295 batting average. Senior Josh Wilson won the right field job one month into the 2015 campaign and ultimately made 29 starts at that position, batting .303 with 20 walks in his first Govs season.
Toeing the Rubber
Junior right-hander Alex Robles will make his first opening day start after serving as the Govs closer to start 2015 and their No. 2 starter in 2014.
Costanzo was 0-2 with an 8.53 ERA (6.1 IP) as a starter last season. Neff did not record a decision (7.0 IP) as a starter and had a 5.14 ERA in 2015.
About the Bradley Braves
Bradley (36-21) was picked to finish fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference’s preseason poll after reaching the 2015 NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection and playing in the Louisville Regional.
Junior right-handed pitcher Matt Dennis and sophomore designated hitter Ian Kristan were named to the Preseason All-MVC squad. Dennis returns after setting the Bradley single-season (12) and career (18) saves marks last season, but is expected to move into the weekend rotation.
Kristan platooned at DH last season but is expected to move behind the plate in 2016. The Braves return eight pitchers from last season’s staff, with Dennis joined by senior left-handers Cameron Roegner and Brent Strong in the weekend rotation.
About the Southern Illinois Salukis
Southern Illinois (12-46) was picked eighth in the MVC preseason poll. The Salukis return 25 members from that team, including seven starters that saw action in 40-plus games last season as well as seven pitchers who made 10 or more appearances.
Junior third baseman Ryan Sabo is among those returnees after leading SIU with a .292 batting average. Sophomore first baseman Greg Lambert also returns after posting a team-best 23 RBI in 2015.
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