You may all be aware that the HHH Metrodome is to be blowd up this winter and that will leave Gopher baseball without a suitable home to play most home games in the late winter to early spring months. Last year Gopher baseball was able to play 34 home games, most of which were under the teflon. But in 2014 that will not be an option for the Gophers.
"We're going from 34 home games to 18 in 2014," Anderson said. "There's a big challenge on the front end of the schedule, going on the road the first five weekends and facing some quality opponents. Hopefully we can get ourselves ready for the Big Ten season, which we start on the road at Northwestern. We have a series against Florida State toward the end of the Big Ten season, which is obviously going to be a huge challenge. But we have a long season ahead of us to hopefully get us ready. We're looking forward to the schedule. I think it has a good mix of schools from different conferences."
The highlight of the non-conference games is clearly a trip to Florida State late in the year. The Seminoles are consistently a baseball powerhouse and have made the NCAA Tournament every year since 1977. This just so happens to be the last year Minnesota won the College World Series. Florida State baseball also features Jameis Winston, the freshman quarterback taking college football by storm this year. That should be a fun series for the Gophers and an opportunity to steal a win or two and boost their schedule strength as the rest of the non-conference schedule appears fairly weak.
Within the Big Ten the Gophers will avoid Ohio State and Illinois, both teams who finished in the top 5 last season. And they will finish the Big Ten season with a road-trip to Indiana, last year's Big Ten champ.
The Gophers will have a few key players to replace after a 32-22 record and 4th place Big Ten finish last year. DJ Snelton and Tom Windle were both junior pitchers who were drafted. These two along with a few key graduated seniors (C-Kurt Schlangen, OF-Troy Larson, OF-Andy Henkemeyer, CL-Billy Soule, IF-Ryan Abrahamson) are going to be difficult to replace in 2014.
The 2014 Gophers should have a strong IF led by Michael Handle (SS), Connor Schaefbauer (2B) and Dan Olinger (1B). But the pitching staff will be more inexperienced that they were a year ago and there appear to be a couple OF spots up for grabs. In the outfield, Bobby Juan will likely be a regular starter and my assumption is that the starting pitching will be headlined by senior Alec Crawford and junior Ben Meyer. But a real preview will be for another day.
Of all the non-revenue sports, Gopher baseball is a really fun team to watch and is one of our more successful programs. They need to be supported, so mark your calendar to head to Seibert Field this spring.