Though their first Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference game is months away, the University of Dallas baseball team has already taken to the fields for the fall season. The UD baseball team looks to improve on its 2011 campaign, where it went 25-14 and came within a win or two of qualifying for the western NCAA regional. The Crusaders, led by third-year head coach Fraser Holmes and assistant coach Kyle Kilgo, are paced by a strong senior class that has contributed mightily over the past three seasons. Dallas will look for another strong performance from team co-MVPs Brian Shelburne and
Michael Schweiss. Schweiss was named to the honorable mention NCAA D-III All-America team as a relief pitcher, while Shelburne was named MVP of the USCAA as the starting centerfielder for UD.
The Crusaders will again look for big things from left fielder and leadoff hitter Devin Arnold, who set the single-season stolen base record for UD last year with 36 stolen bases. Rounding out the exceptional senior class are catcher Varea Costello and pitcher Michael Byers. Byers is expected to fit into the starting-pitcher rotation again, and Costello looks to set the tone for Crusaders behind the plate with his great defense.
The fall is an exciting time for the baseball team. In the spring we saw the departure of several seniors who were major contributors throughout their careers for the UD baseball team, but now we get to see the incoming crop of freshmen and transfers. Holmes and Kilgo have brought in a talented class consisting of 10 new players that will look to fill vacant positions, mostly in the infield and pitching staff.
By NCAA regulations, the baseball team is only allowed 16 official practices, which began in mid-October. However, far before these practices began many baseball players could be found on the field; a testament to the passion and excitement this Crusaders team brings to the table. In mid-October the baseball team began their grueling 6 a.m. gym workouts, which test the players’ physical and mental toughness. The team has continued these early-morning workouts, which complement afternoon practices where Holmes and Kilgo focus on team concepts such as strong defense, situational hitting and good base-running. The Crusaders pride themselves on dominating these crucial but often overlooked aspects of the game.
It is a great time to be a part of the UD baseball program. Beginning this season, we will be playing in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference with the chance to play for a conference championship at the end of the season, as well as a birth in an NCAA regional. Fall signals the return of reading and homework at UD, but it also signals the return of college baseball.