The long preseason in the gym wasn’t as long as usual for the Wright State baseball team. The new turf at Nischwitz Stadium allowed the Raiders to get outside for a week and a half in preparation for today’s season opener against Temple at the Ron Fraser Classic in Cary, N.C.
“We probably would have had maybe one or two days of field time this year if we still had our old field,” coach Rob Cooper said.
The Raiders will play four games in three days in Cary. On Saturday, they play La Salle at 11 a.m. and Albany at 2 p.m. They play Villanova at 10 a.m. Sunday.
Wright State finished 37-21 a year ago and returns one of the six players who earned All-Horizon League first or second team honors, senior shortstop Justin Kopale. Also returning is senior catcher Garrett Gray, who made the preseason all-league team, and sophomore third baseman Michael Timm, an all-newcomer pick last season.
“I think our entire team is excited to get going,” Cooper said. “We’re at that point where our guys are tired of playing against each other. They want to play against somebody in a different uniform. I really feel when you start playing that’s when you get an idea of, ‘What does this team need to do?’”
Cooper is entering his ninth season as Wright State coach. His teams have won 30-plus games seven years in a row.
The Raiders were picked to finish third in the Horizon League preseason poll, which was released Wednesday. Valparaiso, last year’s regular-season and tournament champion, is the favorite.
Milwaukee was picked second. Illinois-Chicago and Youngstown State were picked to finish behind Wright State. There are only five teams in the league this year with the departure of Butler.
Cooper said senior Casey Henn will start against Temple today. The starting pitchers for the other three games are junior Taylor Braun, freshman Robbie Sexton and junior Joey Hoelzel.
This weekend’s event, hosted by Wright State and also featuring Canisius, Monmouth, Toledo and Delaware, is named after the late coach Ron Fraser, who led the Miami Hurricanes to the College World Series twelve times and won championships in 1982 and 1985. Proceeds benefit the Ron Fraser Wizard Fund, which will fund a bronze statue of Fraser at the University of Miami.
Cooper began his coaching career in 1994-95 as a graduate assistant on Fraser’s staff.
Women’s basketball: The Raiders lost their third game in a row Wednesday, 73-66 at Detroit. With Kim Demmings scoring 14 of her 21 points in the second half, Wright State rallied from 13 points down to tie the game at 63 with 3:15 left. Detroit responded with a five-point run to secure the win.
With six Horizon League games remaining, Wright State (10-13 overall) is tied for fifth place with Cleveland State at 4-6, one half game behind Loyola, who the Raiders host at 6 p.m. Saturday.