It will be 47 degrees Saturday in Columbia, Tenn. – a perfect day to open the college baseball season, as far as Wabash Valley College coach Rob Fournier is concerned.
“We were just excited to play in the parking lot (at Spencer Sports Center) the other day. This has definitely been one of the worst winters of all time for us,” said Fournier, whose Warriors even settled for the artificial turf at Evansville North’s football stadium as a stand-in for a field.
Devoid of even one practice outside on a regular diamond, Fournier has simplified the goals for this weekend’s three opening games.
“Our goal is to get to know each other better and improve on each facet of the game,” Fournier said. “We’ll be playing against some real good competition.”
WVC opens the season Saturday with a 2 p.m. doubleheader at Columbia State. Then, the Warriors head for Jackson State, Tenn., for a single game Sunday.
Wabash Valley finished 46-16 last season and won their fourth Great Rivers Athletic Conference title in the past six years. Fournier’s club then knocked off defending national champion Iowa Western before falling two wins shy of a berth in the NJCAA World Series.
“We’re extremely excited. We feel like team chemistry is one of our strengths early,” Fournier said. “There’s a lot of competition at all the positions and a lot of depth.”
Wabash Valley is ranked 24th in a pre-season poll issued by online publication Perfect Game. The Warriors will be relatively young, with only eight sophomores on the roster. Only three of those sophs are pitchers.
Fournier plans to bring the pitching staff along gradually.
“It’s going to be a trial run,” said Fournier, who has three former pitchers on major league rosters, including Keith Butler with St. Louis.
“Everybody will be thrown out there in different roles, even starters who might be relievers this week. We just want to give as many guys looks as we possibly can.”