2013 NCAA Baseball Opening Weekend Preview
By Max Nguyen, 2013 Ticketing Intern
Wisconsin Rapids, WI-Thursday, February 14th. With football wrapped up, basketball in its stretch run, and everyone holding their collective breath as mother nature contemplates her grand sendoff of the winter months, it can only mean one thing: spring is on its way. And with spring accompanies the scent of freshly cut grass, the sunshine beaming down, and baseball! Spring won’t officially start until March 20 but nearly every division of collegiate baseball is getting back into full swing by this weekend. This year’s Rafters feature players across multiple divisions including: Division I (23 players), Division II (2), Division III (1), and JUCO (1). After fielding a steadily improving squad the past three seasons, the Rafters - led by 2012 returner and Northwoods All-Star OF Alex Bacon - look to climb the ladder of the Northwoods League elite.
Freshman All-American and one of the University of North Florida’s top contributors, junior OF Alex Bacon played 51 games for the 2012 Rafters and led the team in batting average, slugging percentage, home runs, and was second in runs scored. He was the Rafters’ best hitter after posting a solid line of .310/.381/.523 (AVG/OBP/SLG) and looks to continue his success this summer.
Hometown favorite, sophomore RHP JP Feyereisen took on a smaller role with the Rafters last year, but look for him to gain more experience this year. In four games, Feyereisen threw an effective 8.2 innings while fanning eight batters and posting a solid 3.11 ERA.
One of two lefties on this year’s Rafters roster and a member of the 2012 College World Series Champion Arizona Wildcats is returning starter RS junior LHP Augey Bill. Bill was efficient in his eight appearances (all starts), throwing 51.2 innings and earning a 2-3 record to the tune of a 3.13 ERA (fourth-lowest on team) for the Rafters.
After bringing back a strong group of returning players, the Rafters went out and snagged another crop of talented individuals who bring collegiate experience and some impressive resumes to the table.
They say everything is bigger in Texas and that certainly seemed to be the case after some big production from Longhorns sophomore OF Taylor Stell during his freshman season. The 6-4 Stell, a Dallas native, racked up seven RBIs, a .333/.461/.400 line, and a perfect 6-for-6 on the basepaths while starting 20 games for a Texas team that finished No. 21 in the country (Collegiate Baseball).
University of Kansas junior RHP Jordan Piche (pronounced pi-SHAY) dominated as the ace for Indian Hills Community College in 2012. Piche, a Colorado native, got the job done in 14 starts, tallying seven complete games, a 9-4 record, a 2.66 ERA, and 85 strikeouts in 88 innings on the bump.
As a the only current JUCO player on the Rafters, Johnson County Community College sophomore RHP Nick Kolarik, led the Cavaliers - nationally ranked in NJCAA-Div. 1 the past 5 years and 2012 East Jayhawk Conference Champions - as a relief pitcher in 2012 earned 69 strikeouts, a mere 1.78 ERA, and an impressive 0.84 WHIP in 55 innings.
Fountain of Youth (Freshmen to watch)
OF Ryan Rand (Texas A&M): Top 500 recruit in class of 2012 by Perfect Game…Drafted 34th round by Pirates in 2012…Ran a blazing 6.64 in 60 dash at PG event in high school…recorded 6 HRs and 76 stolen bases from 10-12 grade…aspires to be corporate lawyer for large oil company
IF Patrick Ervin (North Florida): Drafted 39th round by New York Mets in 2012…Led high school team to 2010 National Championship (ESPN Rise) and 2010 Florida State Championship…batted .387, .403, .444, and .398 respectively through high school career…Two cousins who played Division 1 baseball at Army and Troy
This collection of talented individuals makes up a portion of your 2013 Wisconsin Rapids Rafters. Stay tuned as the remainder of the 2013 roster is unveiled throughout the spring. As they look to earn the Rafters first above-.500 season since its inception in 2010, we’ll be keeping tabs on them and their college teams throughout the spring. Visit raftersbaseball.com for weekly updates, stats, highlights, and even some predictions as the college season gets under way.
It will be an exciting fourth season for the Rafters as the opening pitch of the 2013 campaign happens right here at Witter Field May 29 vs. the Lakeshore Chinooks at 7:05 PM.
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters are members of the 16-team summer collegiate Northwoods League. The Northwoods League has more teams, plays more games, and draws more fans than any other Summer Collegiate League in North America. In 2013 the Northwoods League will celebrate its 20th season. Opening Day at historic Witter Field is scheduled for Wednesday, May 29th at 7:05 pm against the Lakeshore Chinooks. Reserve your 2013 ticket packages today by calling 715-424-5400, or in person by stopping by the Rafters office at Witter Field. Available quantities of all promotional giveaways will vary from event to event and will be available on a first come, first serve basis. The best way to guarantee giveaway items is to purchase a 9-Game Package. The offseason office hours are Monday through Friday from 9am-5pm. For more information, visit www.raftersbaseball.com.