Feb. 23, 2009
The First Pitch: Butler kicks off the 100th season of baseball this week when it takes on cross-town foe Marian on Wednesday (Feb. 25) beginning at 3:00 p.m. at the Marian Baseball Field. The Bulldogs then head south to Evansville, Ind., for three games in the Dunn Hospitality Diamond Classic, held from Feb. 27 to March 1 at Charles H. Braun Stadium. Butler opens up against host Evansville on Friday (Feb. 27) at 6:00 p.m. ET before playing noon ET contests against Eastern Illinois on Saturday (Feb. 28) and Saint Louis on Sunday (March 1).
A Century Of Butler Baseball: The 2009 campaign will mark the 100th season of baseball at Butler University, a program which dates back to 1901. In 99 seasons, the Bulldogs have tallied a 1,144-1,329-11 (.463) all-time record, eight conference championships and a pair of NCAA tournament appearances.
Veteran Authority: Butler head coach Steve Farley, who enters his 18th season at the helm this year, has overseen some of the most successful years in Bulldog baseball history. Under his guidance, Butler claimed three regular season conference titles, two league tournament championships and a pair of NCAA tournament appearances. Currently the most veteran coach in the Horizon League, his 18th season this year will make him the second-longest tenured mentor in program history, trailing only Butler legend Tony Hinkle's 41 seasons. Farley's 427 wins in that time, meanwhile, are the most in school history.
Seniority Rules: The Bulldogs will not have to worry about any lack of veteran presence on the roster this season. Butler boasts 11 seniors on the staff, the most among the seven Horizon League schools.
Big-Time Non-Conference: A highly-competitive non-league schedule awaits the Bulldogs this season, featuring opponents from the Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Mountain West, Atlantic-10 and Missouri Valley. Butler will take on UNLV in four games from March 6-8 and will battle Kansas State in a four-game set from March 13-15. The Bulldogs will also play two games against Purdue during the year.
Professional Touch: The Bulldogs will get a small taste of professional baseball this season. Butler will host Dayton at Victory Field - home of the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians - on March 31 and will take on Horizon League opponent Milwaukee in a double-header at Miller Park - home of the Milwaukee Brewers - on May 14.
From A To Ziegel: Senior outfielder Colin Ziegel returns as one of the Bulldogs' top bats this season. He finished 2008 with a team-best .391 batting average and .436 on base percentage in Horizon League contests and boasted a 10-game hitting streak from March 28 to April 12 - tied for the team's longest of the season.
Ok, Ochs: Senior left-hander Joe Ochs was arguably the Bulldogs' most effective pitcher last season. In nine appearances from March 12 to May 7, the southpaw did not allow an earned run in 26.2 consecutive innings, including a stretch of 21.2 scoreless frames. The streak would come to an end at an even 27 innings against the Hoosiers, however, as IU got a one-out RBI triple in the first inning. Ochs finished the year with a team-high three wins while boasting a 4.24 ERA, 20 strikeouts and just six walks in 34 innings.
Bringing The Hits: Kyle Schultz was arguably the Bulldogs' most reliable bat in the lineup last season. His .383 batting average and .471 on base percentage led the team, while his .500 slugging percentage and 46 total hits ranked fourth. He also collected 11 multi-hit games and finished tied for a team-high 10-game hitting streak from April 5 to 20.
Bulldog Park Renovations: Bulldog Park, home of the Butler baseball team, will be undergoing some major improvements this year. Last fall, the field received a new pitcher's mound and home plate area, new laser-graded infield dirt and new sod around the first and third base, home plate and the mound. The crown jewel of the renovation project, to be completed this spring, will be a 6,000 square foot multi-purpose hitting facility that will feature four turfed indoor batting cages and pitching mounds, pitching machines, drill stations and a bathroom.
On Deck: Butler hosts Taylor in the home opener on March 3 before heading to Dayton for a single game on March 4 and UNLV for a four-game set from March 6-8.