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Baseball: Bobcats head south for season opener

With the upcoming 2011 season, Ohio will try to overcome the disappointments of 2010 when the new season begins this Friday in South Carolina.

The Bobcats head south to face the Furman Paladins to open the baseball season. Coach Joe Carbone believes the adversity the team faced in 2010, when it finished 20-35, will help during the upcoming year.

Carbone said that with all the injuries the team faced last season, especially regarding the pitching staff, many of the younger players who "really weren't ready" saw a good amount of playing time.

That will only make the team better this season, Carbone said

"They're showing right now that the experience they got last year is going to help them a lot," he said. "We're liking what we're seeing from some of our younger pitchers right now that went out there under fire last year and probably weren't quite ready. They're throwing the ball pretty well this year."

Ohio is heading into the season without a senior pitcher on the team.

Another theme of the season will be if Ohio can replace the power-hitting of all-conference player Gauntlett Eldemire and All-American Robert Maddox III, who were both taken in last year's MLB Draft.

The Philadelphia Phillies selected Eldemire in the fifth round, while the Cincinnati Reds picked Maddox in the 18th.

The pair of MLB draftees combined for 37. With Jarod Yakubik graduating and being selected in the 34th round by the Anaheim Angels, no returning member of Ohio's roster hit more than seven home runs in 2010.

"We lost three great hitters last year," Carbone said. "So we're going to have to play better defense, and we're going to have to pitch better, which I think we will."

Carbone also stressed the difficulty of not only replacing productive players but also replacing departing juniors heading to the big leagues.

"I don't know if you do replace them," Carbone said. "The real tough thing is that you lose three juniors (Eldemire, Maddox and Mark Krauss two seasons ago). It's really tough when underclassmen go because you're not sure they're going to sign."

Ohio will face Furman (19-37 in 2010) Friday in the first game of four that will be played against the Paladins this weekend. The Bobcats faced the Paladins in a three-game set last year. Ohio lost all three outings.

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