Clarksville, TN – The Austin Peay State University (APSU) baseball team opens it 2019 regular season this coming weekend at Raymond C. Hand Park looking to return to the top of the Ohio Valley Conference standings after an up-and-down 2018 campaign.
The Govs are coming off a respectable 30-27 season a year ago — included a 17-13 mark in OVC play – but it was also a season that saw a team that had wins versus the likes of Illinois, Kansas State and Top-five nationally ranked Clemson also have a seven-game losing streak to end the season.
In the recently released OVC preseason poll, the Govs were picked to finish fourth in the conference’s regular season behind favorite – and defending OVC Tournament champions – Morehead State, Jacksonville State and 2018 regular-season champion Tennessee Tech.
But while they are looking up at three teams in the poll there are several reasons to believe they can challenge for the top spot.
First, the Govs return a pitching staff that accounted for 20 of its 30 starts in conference weekend series, headed by the 2019 OVC Pre-season Pitcher of the Year Jacques Pucheu, who recorded six wins in 10 OVC starts, striking out 64.
Overall, Pucheu was ranked in the Top 10 in the OVC in ERA (4.03/8th), strikeouts 4th/101) and victories (7/7th).
Joining him will be Brandon Vail, Josh Rye and Devin O’Donovan, who accounted for 10 OVC starts in 2018.
The Govs also return Tyler Thompson, Brett Newberg, Ross Walker and Greg Leban, who also saw time on the mound in conference play.
Secondly, they also return one of the top hitters in the OVC in Parker Phillips, who led the OVC in home runs a year ago (19), and in slugging percentage (.943) – over 170 points better than the conference runner-up. Phillips also drove in 44 runs, second-most in the conference.
Along with being an OVC pre-season First-team selection, Phillips has also received national attention by being named a First-Team Preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
He will be joined by infielders Garrett Kueber, Malcolm Tipler and catcher Alex Sala, who all played and started a majority of the Govs conference games last season.
The Govs open 2019 with seven straight games at home to start the season, including a three-game set versus Southeastern Conference member Kentucky this weekend at home.