TAMPA, Fla. —- Can you feel the love in the air?
It is that time of the year and not to mention your old Uncle Mel’s favorite time of the year and you know-you can feel the love.
No more sitting around and waiting for something good to happen because for Uncle Mel if it happens on a baseball diamond – like love, then it is worth waiting for and it is all good.
Now, Uncle Mel has spent a lot of quality time on a baseball field and there is nothing like the feeling of a brand new baseball season-it is like the first kiss.
This season will be different because instead of watching baseball in the cold and damp weather of the Mid-American Conference and Eastern Michigan University, Uncle Mel will be enjoying the sunshine, pleasant temperatures and watching American Athletic Conference baseball and the University of South Florida.
The season begins this weekend, Feb.14-16, 2013 for the Bulls with a three game series against the University of Maryland Eastern Shores beginning at 7 p.m. Friday night at USF Baseball Stadium.
Leading the Bulls from the bench and entering his ninth season as the man-in-charge, Lelo Pardo and he said at the Media Day gathering that he is looking for the Bulls to make some noise inside the conference and stay in the hunt for the championship of the conference but he feels that his team will have to show balance defensively, be discipline at the plate and the Bulls need to have solid pitching performances from his pitching staff.
“At every level of baseball, if you pitch you will win,” Pardo said. “I like our offense, I think we have done a lot of good things so far in practice and you should see a fun and exciting team.”
Pardo said, that he is expecting the American Athletic Conference to be a contributor to the NCAA Tournament, he thinks that this league a competitive conference.
“Well it’s a better conference top to bottom, it is way better. I think baseball went way up in this conference,” Pardo said. “I think with our non-conference schedule the way it is and the teams coming into the conference, that are all regional teams. If we play good, win our 38, 39 games, with our power rating, I think we we’ll be in a regional.”
The University of Louisville is the unanimous preseason pick by the coaches to win the conference title and play in the NCAA Baseball Tournament, followed by the University of Central Florida, the University of Connecticut and by the University of Houston.
The Bulls received 34 votes and they are picked to finish fifth in the conference.
The Bulls also placed starting right-handed pitcher Jimmy Herget and second baseman Nik Alfonso on the 2014 Preseason All-Conference Team.
Alfonso said that his roll as a team leader is just do what he has been doing since he started to play baseball, he just wants to get better by working harder.
“I am never really happy with what I am doing, that’s just being an athlete, never being satisfied and always trying to get more out of your ability,” Alfonso said. “Trying to come out here everyday, working hard and get better little by little.”
Herget said he thinks that Pardo expectations are the same as his expectations.
“I don’t think that there is any doubt that we are going to do good this year and we are going to surprise people,” Herget said. “I feel like we can come out, in this conference, the team we play and our schedule, can definitely put us in the regional.”
The University of Maryland Eastern Shores is a member of the competitive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and the Hawks finished last year with an overall record of 8-45 and a conference record of 4-20, finishing in last place in the North Division.
Last season, the Hawks as a team batted just .251 and only hit five home runs. The Hawks pitching staff ERA of 6.53, walking 227 and only striking out 156 batters is something that UMES baseball coach Pedro Swann is hoping that his pitching staff will improve this season. Swann is hoping that his offense improves enough so his team can find a little more offense at the plate.
Love will be in the air and it will be a Saint Valentine’s Day celebration at USF Baseball Stadium, complete with boxes of chocolate candy, love songs filling the air and plenty of red roses and for Pardo he is hoping that the Bulls fall in love with winning.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.