Salukis open 2013 season Friday at UAB

    Sam Coonrod will make the start for SIU on Opening Day.

    Sam Coonrod will make the start for SIU on Opening Day.
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    Feb. 14, 2013

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Southern Illinois University baseball team will open its 68th baseball season with a three-game series at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Feb. 15-17.

    Southern Illinois (0-0, 0-0 MVC) at UAB (0-0, 0-0 C-USA)
     Date Friday, Feb. 15-Sunday, Feb. 17
     Time Fri. - 3 p.m., Sat. - 2 p.m., Sun. 1 p.m.
     Location Birmingham, Ala. - Jerry D. Young Memorial Stadium


    Fri. - RHP Sam Coonrod (SIU) vs. LHP Turner Lee (UAB)
    Sat. - LHP Cody Forsythe (SIU) vs. RHP James Naile (UAB)
    Sun. - LHP Derek Fogel (SIU) vs. TBA (UAB) 
     Radio None
     Game Notes SIU
     Live Stats Gametracker
     Social Media @SIU_Baseball | @UABbaseball

    FRIDAY’S STARTER Sophomore Sam Coonrod will make his first start of the season. In 2012 he made 10 starts and eight relief appearances, posting a 3-5 record and a 4.64 ERA. His last eight appearances of the season were weekend starts. This will be his first career Friday start.

    UAB SERIES NOTES The two schools have met just once, when the Salukis played a three-game series at UAB in February of 2001. Southern dropped the first game but won the last two to take the series. The second game of the series lasted 15 innings. 

    SCOUTING THE BLAZERS UAB has been picked to finish eighth out of the nine teams in the Conference USA Preseason Poll. The Blazers did not place anyone on the Preseason All-Conference Team. In 2012, UAB finished 32-30 and 9-15 in C-USA. Despite finishing seventh in the conference, the Blazers won the conference tournament for a bid in the NCAA Tournament where they went 0-2 in the Tallahassee Regional. The team’s two leading returning hitters are outfielder Ivan De Jesus, who hit .294 in 2012, and Jeff Schalk, who hit .279 and was named to the C-USA All-Freshmen Team.

    PRESEASON POLL Southern Illinois has been picked to finish fifth in the Preseason Missouri Valley Conference Poll. The poll is voted on by the eight coaches of the MVC. SIU received 36 votes in the poll, nine shy of Illinois State and Indiana State. Both of those schools tied for third in the poll.

    PRESEASON ALL-MVC Senior utility man Austin Montgomery and junior reliever Todd Eaton were both selected to the Preseason All-MVC Team. Only Missouri State (4) and Illinois State (3) had more representatives on the team. Montgomery split time between right field and third base in 2012 and was named first-team All-Conference as he finished fifth in the MVC batting race with a .332 average and finished in the top 10 in the conference in six other offensive categories. Eaton earned second-team All-MVC honors in 2012. He was third in the Valley with nine saves, and his 2.23 ERA was the fourth lowest among all MVC pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched.

    EATON ON AWARD WATCH LIST Earlier this week, SIU closer Todd Eaton was one of 75 student-athletes named to the initial watch list for the ninth annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award. The award recognizes the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball.

    SATURDAY, SUNDAY STARTERS Cody Forsythe will become the 10th Saluki pitcher to start 35 games in his career.  In 2012 he became the first Saluki pitcher to throw at least 100 innings in multiple seasons. He is coming off an All-MVC junior season in which he went 5-4 with a 3.10 ERA and finished seventh in the league with 84 strikeouts. Lefty Derek Fogel will make the start on Sunday. It will be his first start with the Salukis after spending last year at Cowley County (Kan.) Community College.

    OPENING DAY HISTORY Entering the weekend, SIU has lost its last three season openers and five of its last six seasons debuts. However, the Salukis have battled back to win two of three to start the season in each of the past two seasons. The last time SIU began a season with three straight victories was 1979. The 1979 season was the third year in a row that SIU won three straight to start a season, and the Salukis finished with a 37-10 record that year. Of the 14 seasons in which SIU has made the NCAA Tournament, the Salukis started 10 of those years with two or more wins in their first three games.

    CAPTAINS Senior left-handed pitcher Cody Forsythe and junior second baseman Jake Welch are the two captains for this year’s squad. Forsythe was also a captain in 2012.

    SALUKI HALL OF FAME Former SIU outfielder Joe Wallis will be inducted into the Saluki Hall of Fame this weekend. Wallis played three seasons for the Dawgs and led them to a 43-9 record and the finals of the College World Series in 1971. That year he recorded a .446 batting average, a single-season school record that still stands. A sixth-round draft pick by the Cubs in 1973, he played five seasons in the majors.