Baseball kicks off 2011 season with a trip to Coastal Carolina

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Baseball season is upon Tennessee Tech as they kick off the 2011 season with the Caravelle Resort Tournament at Watson Stadium, Vrooman Field in Conway, S.C. The team will commence the tournament facing off against Virginia Tech on Saturday at 10 a.m.

The Golden Eagles will be looking to continue the momentum that carried them through the end of last season to an OVC Championship and OVC Tournament runner-up spot with a 31-25 overall record, 14-6 in-conference.

They return 20 letter-winners and are joined by 10 newcomers but, more significantly, return an entire starting field with Austin Wulf, Chad Oberacker and Casanova Donaldson manning the outfield and Zephan Guyear, Devin Rivers, Chad Hayes and Frankie Beech covering the dirt. Junior Ben Burgess is also back to man his post at the dish.

Another letterman returning for TTU is junior Matt Shepherd, a right-handed pitcher who will start off on the hill against the Hokies. Shepherd pitched 45.1 innings for the Golden Eagles last season, notching 38 strikeouts en route to a 1-1 record.

The Hokies out of the ACC finished sixth in their conference last year with a 16-14 ACC record and a 40-22 overall stand. They return 14 lettermen from last season, including four position player starters and one starting pitcher.

Joe Mantiply will take the mound for the Hokies Saturday morning; the sophomore righty out of Danville, VA., returns from his 2010 debut having amassed a 4-1 record with a 5.62 ERA. He pitched 57.2 innings for VA Tech, striking out 59 on the season and allowing 36 earned runs on 67 hits.

Play on Saturday will continue when Tech takes on the hosting Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina at 2 p.m., and will wrap up with a game between the Golden Eagles and the Eagles of Boston College on Sunday, again at 10 a.m.

Fans who won't be in South Carolina for the tournament can follow the Tennessee Tech/Virginia Tech match up via Live Stats on Coastal Carolina's website.