MN Daily: With high expectations, Gophers baseball begins practice
Though it may not seem like it with the recent cold wave washing over campus, baseball season is ready to start in Dinkytown.
The Gophers' baseball team, which went 44-15 overall and was one series away from the College World Series last season, started practice for the 2019 season on Friday. Minnesota won the Big Ten regular season and tournament championship last season. Four Gophers were selected in the 2018 MLB draft from that team, with the highest pick being then-junior Terrin Vavra, who was the 96th overall pick.
"We don't want to forget it. We want to embrace that and take some confidence from that. ... It's elevated our program here, I think, to a different level on the national scene, and we're going to embrace that part of it," said Minnesota head coach John Anderson, who is in his 37th season as head coach. "But at the same time, this is a different team."
The Gophers graduated six seniors from last season, and lost two juniors in the draft. Though it wasn't a large class, those few had an impact, especially in the position groups. The starters who played in center field, third base and second base are all gone this season.
Ben Mezzenga, a senior outfielder who had the second highest batting average last season with a .383, said he plans on moving his position to center field as former center fielder Alex Boxwell graduated. Junior shortstop Jordan Kozicky and senior first baseman Cole McDevitt will lead the inexperienced infield this season.
"We're going to need guys to step up who maybe hadn't had much success previously in their years," Mezzenga said. "A lot of those guys have been working extremely hard, and I know there's going to be guys that are going to show up this year and really blow everyone away with how well they do."