The University of Mobile baseball team has released their schedule for the upcoming 2018 season.
They will kick off head coach Mike Jacobs’ 29th season at the helm on February 2 with a doubleheader against Midway University at Jacobs Field. That will be the first of 13 games on their home field to open the season.
The annual home-and-home series with crosstown rival Spring Hill begins on February 6 when the NCAA Division II opponent visits Jacobs Field. The Rams will cross enemy lines in the second half of the series on April 18.
The Rams will face their toughest stretch of the season at the beginning of March, starting on March 2 when they face defending Southern States Athletic Conference Regular Season Champion Middle Georgia State on the road. After the three-game series, they will return to Jacobs Field for a single game against Tennessee Wesleyan, who finished last season ranked No. 18 in the country, on March 6. Finally, they cap the nine-day, seven-game stretch with a three-game series against defending SSAC Tournament Champion, and Avista-NAIA World Series Runner-Up, Faulkner University on March 9-10 at Jacobs Field.
After the tough stretch, the Rams will face the tough task of playing 12 consecutive games on the road, including a three-game series with a quality non-conference foe in Point University.
Mobile will close out the season on their home field against William Carey, who finished the season ranked No. 4 in the NAIA, on April 26-27.
Jacobs will return a solid core with six returners from the lineup, including last season’s leader in batting average, Cody Cox. The always-dependable second baseman, Norberto Torres returns to help man the middle of the defense with Cox, while Cody Evans, who caught 16 runners stealing last year, will provide a veteran presence behind the plate for the young pitching staff.
Replacing the power from home run leaders Mason Schoettlin, Chris Hopballe, and J.T. Peddrick will be a tough task, but the Rams will lean on outfielders Corey Wheaton, who has the most runs batted in of any returner, and Joseph Barnett, two home runs and five triples last season, to go along with a strong set of returners that hit for average to produce runs in 2018.
The biggest hurdle will be replacing, the 2017 SSAC ERA leader, Lukas Young, drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 21st Round, and the SSAC innings pitched leader, Garrett Waters in the starting rotation. However, Braxton Rhodes returns after finishing strong last season, and Luke Hastings, a bullpen anchor the last two years, will move to the starting rotation. Replacing him in the bullpen will be NCAA Division I transfer Chase Martin, who will light up the radar gun and be a strong contributor in his first season in the crimson red.
“The 2018 spring schedule has many familiar names as far as the nonconference part of the schedule goes. Tennessee Wesleyan, Central Baptist, and Talladega have been in the opening round of the NAIA postseason in recent years, and will provide plenty of competition for us,” Jacobs said about the schedule. “The conference schedule is difficult as it is each year. With Teams like Faulkner University, William Carey who both finished 2nd and 3rd in the NAIA World Series last season and Middle Georgia has been to the opening round the last two seasons. The rest of the opponents we will face are high quality teams that can win any series if you don’t bring your ‘A’ game to the park. We are ready to improve on our fourth place finish in the conference from last season.”