Lumberjacks To Open 2014 In Arlington
Feb. 13, 2014
NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack baseball team opens the 2014 season on the road, participating in the UTA Invitational beginning Feb. 14. SFA will open the year with host Texas-Arlington, followed by games with Oklahoma State and Incarnate Word over the weekend.
Sixth-year head coach Johnny Cardenas has the ‘Jacks coming off a 28-29 season and fifth place finish in the Southland Conference. SFA appeared in the 2013 SLC Tournament as a six-seed, the fifth-straight postseason appearance for Cardenas in his tenure. Cardenas enters the 2014 season with a 148-137 career record with the ‘Jacks.
The 2013 season was highlighted by the stellar play of shortstop Hunter Dozier. The Denton, Texas, native, wrapped up a standout baseball career at SFA by earning first-team All-America honors, being named the Southland Conference’s Player and Hitter of the Year and culminating with being taken by the Kansas City Royals with the eighth overall selection of the draft.
Dozier, a two-time first-team All-SLC selection, Dozier led the conference in batting average, slugging percentage, doubles, home runs and total bases in 2013, and finished the regular season ranked among the nation’s top five in each category, before being the highest ‘Jacks and SLC baseball player taken in the draft. In addition to the All-America honors, Dozier became the first Lumberjack in program history to be named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award. He was also a national finalist for both the Brooks Wallace Award (nation’s top shortstop), and semifinalist for the Dick Howser Award (top player).
Dozier was one of 12 players and the only junior to depart from the 2013 squad, as SFA bid adieu to its seniors.
SFA returns 16 letterman and five position starters from last season, highlighted by outfielder Ricardo Sanchez. The senior out of Houston, Texas, is coming off a breakout 2013 campaign in which he garnered second-team all-conference honors. The 2014 preseason first-team All-SLC selection, finished fourth in the conference with his .358 batting average as a junior. With the departure of the three SLC players ahead of him last season, Sanchez is the league’s top returning hitter.
The ‘Jacks also return in catcher Joe Olson, infielder Brett Thornell, and outfielders Mackenzie Handel, and Matthew Dickey. Senior Zach Marberry also has starting experience, making 12 starts in 2013.
On the mound, SFA returns seven pitchers from last season, including weekend staple Kyle Cross. The senior from Pearland, Texas, started in all but one of his 14 appearances in 2013, finishing 5-6 with a 4.18 ERA. Cross tossed 79.2 innings, including a complete-game shutout against Arlington Baptist (3/9/13), while fanning 39 hitters.
Other ‘Jacks on the mound are junior Cameron Gann, who will take the mound for SFA’s opening game, seniors Fabian Arcizo, Kevin Bishop, Garrett Powell and Justin Hunsaker and sophomore Chris Hassold. Junior Sam Johnson is also back for the ‘Jacks after suffering an injury in the beginning of last season.
With the departure of Dozier and a large crop of seniors having completed their eligibility, it would seem the league expects a middle-of-the-pack season from the ‘Jacks. Both the coaches and sports information directors tabbed SFA seventh in the preseason polls entering 2014.
Fans can keep up with the action at the UTA Invitational on the Mavericks' athletic site utamavs.com. Links to live stats and video stream ($) can be found on UTA's site.