CLAREMORE — Junior Kyle Deaton and freshman Zach Tyson could will compete for time as well.
The closer might be the place where RSU has the most question marks.
“Coach Brown and I have discussed the closer role a lot and I feel like it is going to be determined as we go through the season. Consistency will be the key and hopefully someone will step forward and take control of that opportunity. Two young pitchers who could develop into the role are Shawn Patton and Colton Weeks.”
Patton and Weeks, both left-handed pitchers, redshirted last season with the Hillcats.
The Hillcats will open the season with their first seven games on the road before returning home for a seven-game home stand. RSU’s home opener will come against Baker (Kan.) for the second consecutive season. The four-game series is set for February 16th and 17th.
Four teams from the Sooner Athletic Conference, including the Hillcats at No.5, are ranked in the 2012-13 NAIA Baseball Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll. The Diamond Cats open their 28-game conference slate at home on March 7th against St. Gregory’s (Okla.). RSU will then play back-to-back series against preseason No.10 Oklahoma Baptist and Mid-America Christian.
RSU will round out the conference slate in April as the Hillcats face USAO, Wayland Baptist, No. 16 Lubbock Christian and No. 4 Oklahoma City. The conference is laid out a bit different in 2013 with each series moving to four games rather than three and all games will be seven-inning contests. Last season’s regular season champion Oklahoma City and tournament Champion Oklahoma Baptist will co-host the SAC Tournament, May 1-4.
“The four-game series is going to be tough on our conference and is going to tag more losses on all the teams,” Bradley said. “It’s a challenging schedule this year. We have several NCAA DII school on the schedule in preparation for the transition next year. The four-game conference schedule is going to affect our midweek games. It will come down to pitching. Those midweek games are going to be important.”