The East Central University baseball team is coming off a 26-23 finish in 2012 and a 10-13 mark in the Great American Conference. The Tigers will have a new look on the field, as they lost 23 players from the 2012 team, return eight and will have 18 newcomers.
Among the eight returns are Paul Guardado and Ethan Gold, who earned All-GAC Honorable Mention awards in 2012. Gurardado leads the returners with a .325 batting average, with five doubles and 10 RBI’s a season ago.
“Gilbert Guardado will more than likely be one of our starting corner outfielders,” said head coach Dino Rosato. “He is a pretty consistent player.”
Gold was second on the team with his .324 batting average, with seven doubles, three triples and a home run.
“Ethan Gold has made steady improvements every year with us,” added Rosato. “We are looking forward to see what he can do for us this season.”
The Tigers will have a strong field of pitchers in the bullpen this season, with the team consisting of 11 total pitchers, nine of which are juniors or seniors.
“We are senior heavy on the mound,” said Rosato. “I like our pitching staff. If we pitch ahead, throw strikes and keep it down in the zone we should be pretty successful.”
The top returner from the group of pitchers in 2012 is senior Will Grimes. Grimes went 3-1 in eight appearances in 2012 and ended the season with a 2.81 ERA.
“Will Grimes has been with me for four years and has battled through some injuries,” Rosato said. “He has really kept us in some games and is poised to have a tremendous senior season.”
Among the other key returners for ECU is senior catcher Mac Grace, who started with the Tigers in 2010 as a true freshman. In 2012 he tallied four doubles and a home run and a .982 fielding percentage.
“Mac Grace has been at ECU for four years and he is coming off his best fall yet,” said Rosato. “He is swinging the bat well and hopefully it carries over to the spring season.”
The Tigers will start the season Feb. 1-2 when they host a home-and-home series with St. Gregory’s. ECU will also face Abliene Christian, Bacone College, Cameron, Oklahoma Baptist, Oklahoma Christian and Oklahoma City in non-conference games throughout the season.
The first Great American Conference games of the season start Feb. 15-16 when the Tigers host Ouachita Baptist. ECU will be on the road for most of March, but will play nine of 14 games scheduled in April at the ECU Baseball Field. The stretch includes being at home for the final two weeks of the season against Northwestern Oklahoma State (April 19-20) and Southeastern Oklahoma State (April 26-27).