JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The first pitch of the 2016 season for Carson-Newman baseball will be thrown at 2 p.m. at Founders Federal Credit Union Stadium against Limestone as the Eagles open their season for a second-straight year in Gaffney, S.C.
The resounding word around the clubhouse has been the amount of bodies the Eagles can employ in the field and in the lineup with 20 players expected to see time at some point during the year.
"I think we have good depth," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "I think this team has depth. It has a good mix of speed and guys that hit for power. There will be some new guys in that lineup. The nice thing is it looks like we have balance as far as righty and lefties, as far as depth at certain positions so guys can move around. As a coach you can manage the game a little bit differently than having just eight or nine guys. I think we go a little bit deeper than that."
Senior third basemen Brandon Roberts (Davie, Fla.) is the top returning hitter coming off of a season where he hit .302 with a career-high five home runs and 24 runs batted in to go along with nine stolen bases.
The return of sophomore Cade Snapp (Seymour, Tenn.) means four home runs are back in the lineup after the designated hitter missed the final 26 games of the 2015 season with a shoulder injury. Snapp joins junior catcher Greg Jones (Maryville, Tenn.) to bolster the heart of the lineup as Jones clubbed four dingers with 17 RBIs 23 starts.
Carson-Newman and Limestone (0-2) begin the season for the second straight year with the 23rd all-time meeting between the two schools. The Eagles and Saints have each won 11 games in the series.
Carson-Newman lost in 14 innings at Limestone 363 days ago 2-1 extending its losing streak in the Palmetto State to the Saints to six games. The last victory for the Eagles at Limestone came on April 2, 2008 in an 8-2 decision. Derek Long collected three hits and three pitchers threw three innings each in the victory.
In 2015 Limestone recorded a 15-27 overall record and a 10-14 mark in Conference Carolinas actions. The Saints were 11-11 at home while winning just four times in 20 games away from home.
Tuesday marks the home opener for the Saints during a schedule that tilts heavily to home contests in February as Limestone plays 17 of 18 games in the month at home.
The Saints are coached by first-year head coach Chris Wiley, a seven-year assistant at Limestone after stints as the head coach of Campbell and the Gastonia Grizzlies of the Coastal Plains League.
Limestone began its season during the final weekend in January falling 13-4 and 10-9 at Francis Marion. In the first contest the Saints had a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning before giving up 11 unanswered runs. The seventh and eighth innings were once again issues in the second game give up six total runs in the seventh and eighth innings in a loss.
The Saints stole seven bases in eight attempts in the two games against the Patriots after stealing a total of 46 during the 2015 season.
Wake Forest transfer Zach Piazza, a redshirt-sophomore, led the way offensively over the weekend going 5-for-9 at the plate with a home run, four RBIs and three runs scored.
Fans can listen to the broadcast on cneagles.com/live with pregame coverage beginning at 1:50 with a pregame interview featuring a position preview leading up to the first pitch of the 2016 season.
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