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RedHawks open season against Arkansas State

By Zach Maciaszek
On February 13, 2014

The Miami University baseball team takes to the field for the first time in the 2014 season this weekend.

The RedHawks will travel to Arkansas State University for a three-game series against the RedWolves.

This opening series represents the beginning of the arduous grind that is the baseball season; a journey that Miami's first-year head coach Danny Hayden expects to end with a Mid-American Conference championship and maybe more.

"I think we've got a great team," Hayden said. "I think we've got enough talent on our team to win a MAC championship this year and go a lot further than that. I think what's going to decide that is how our mentality is throughout the course of the season."

The 'Hawks finished last season third in the MAC East division standings with a 14-13 MAC record (26-30 overall).  

Senior LHP Seth Varner (2-1, 5.13 ERA, 25K, 17 BB) will take the mound for the RedHawks against the RedWolves' senior RHP Bradley Wallace (5-2, 4.33 ERA, 78K, 25 BB) Friday night.

Varner was a relief pitcher last season, as he led the RedHawks last year in appearances out of the pen. He heads a rotation that features pitchers who will all be asked to take on expanded roles, as none of them have started consistently in the past.

Hayden said he believes his staff is talented, but they will earn their roles based on performance.

"We've got enough [talent] to be really good," Hayden said. "It will be all based on how guys step up and continue to earn the innings that they get and continue to try and go out there and beat up on other teams."

Varner said he believes he is ready to take on the challenge of being the ace of the pitching staff.

"It's always been my goal to be a Friday guy," Varner said. "If it didn't happen I was ready to throw for any role, anytime. It's a big jump, but I think I can handle it and I think all of our other guys can handle it too. We've been preparing well, so I think we'll be alright."

On Saturday RedHawk junior RHP Nathan Williams (4-5, 5.29 ERA, 48K, 43 BB) goes up against ASU's junior LHP Chandler Hawkins (2-5, 6.24 ERA, 42K, 29 BB).

The Sunday matchup has MU's junior RHP Ryan Powers (1-3, 4.54 ERA, 22K, 9BB) toeing the rubber against sophomore RHP David Owen (2-2, 7.33 ERA, 25K, 15BB).

Miami's lineup returns four players who batted .317 or better last season. As a team, the 'Hawks batted .281, placing them second in the MAC.

Among the key returnees is junior outfielder Matt Honchel, who batted .340 last year on his way to earning First Team All-MAC honors. Sophomore outfielder Jake Romano, the reigning MAC Freshman of the Year, led the conference with a .370 batting average.

First pitch for Friday's game is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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