Since today is February 1st, that means that baseball season is right around the corner. I know, college basketball season is in full force right now, but the Duke baseball season begins right in the middle of it.
The Blue Devils open the 2013 season with a new coach for a weekend series February 15-17 in Florida. For the second straight season, Duke opens at a national powerhouse. Last season, it was Texas. This season, it is against the Florida Gators. The same team that continues to dominate the SEC and head to the College World Series. The Gators are ranked 17th in Baseball America’s preseason top 25.
Two of the Gators starting pitchers were named to preseason All-American teams by Baseball America: right-handers Jonathon Crawford (second team) and Karsten Whitson (third team). However, they lost big pieces like catcher Mike Zunino, two-way player Brian Johnson, and infielder Nolan Fontana. So they are a young team trying to fins their identity. Maybe the Blue Devils can pick up some wins?
Meanwhile, Duke lost their top starter to the first round of the MLB draft last June (Marcus Stroman) and their best hitter to professional baseball (Will Piwnica-Worms). They do however, have some pieces still in place like Jeff Kremer, David Perkins, Chris Marconcini, Trent Swart, and Robert Huber. You can check out their full roster HERE.
Those pieces did not help those who ranked the teams in the ACC for their preseason poll. Duke is picked to finish last in the Coastal Division once again. North Carolina is picked to finish first in the same division and is ranked number one by Baseball America in their preseason Top 25 (with All-American Colin Moran). The Blue Devils will play their ACC rival April 19-21 in Chapel Hill.
However, NC State was picked to win the ACC with All-Americans Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner. The Wolfpack is ranked eighth nationally. Duke will play them to finish out their season before the ACC Tournament, May 16-18.
Other teams in the ACC that are ranked by Baseball America include Georgia Tech (16) and Florida State (20). GT was picked to come in second in the Coastal Division to UNC and FSU was picked to finish second to NC State in the Atlantic Division. They host the Yellow Jackets April 5-7 and the following weekend, Duke travels to FSU (April 12-14).
*For Duke’s complete baseball schedule, click HERE. Duke is once again the host school for the ACC Tournament (it will be held at Durham Bulls Athletic Park), so hopefully they can qualify this season.