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Baseball: Schrage era starts in San Antonio

Chris Khorey | Friday, February 16, 2007

As winter weather continues in South Bend, Notre Dame heads to a warmer climate.

The Irish will open their season this weekend in San Antonio, Texas against Prairie View A&M Saturday and Texas State Saturday and Sunday in coach Dave Schrage’s first games with Notre Dame.

“We’re focusing on this weekend and hoping to play well,” he said.

Saturday’s game against the Panthers will be the first time the Irish have played outdoors this season. Schrage expressed concern about Notre Dame’s hitting and catching fly balls in the sunshine, but said that the Loftus Center provides a solid location for winter infield drills.

“Our hitting will probably struggle,” Schrage said. “We’d better pitch it well and we’d better play [defense]. That’s what will keep us in games at the start of the season. Also, we haven’t seen the ball in the air, so pop ups could be an adventure.”

Outfielder Danny Dressman said that the lack of outdoor practice probably will not affect his play.

“You’ve got to roll with the punches,” he said. “Hopefully it won’t be too big of an issue.”

Junior Wade Korpi, sophomore David Phelps and sophomore Sam Elam are expected to start this weekend for the Irish, but Schrage said that he wants to get several pitchers action with each on a pitch count.

“Right now, our pitchers are going to be limited to about 75 pitches,” Schrage said. “Hopefully that gets them five innings.”

Sophomore closer Kyle Weiland will not pitch this weekend. He is still recovering from a broken collarbone suffered when he slipped on ice in December.

“He’s fine,” Schrage said. “He actually threw a little bit today, but he’s not full speed yet.”

Fifth-year senior Matt Weglarz, a transfer from Missouri State, won the starting catching job in the opener after returning starter senior Sean Gaston was lost for the year with an injury. Weglarz is enrolled in Notre Dame’s MBA program.

Schrage said he remembered Weglarz from when his old team, Evansville, played Missouri State.

“I remembered his name from playing against him,” Schrage said. “He has some power and he puts the bat on the ball pretty consistently.”

In the infield, sophomore Jeremy Barnes will start at first base, junior Ross Brezovsky at second, junior Brett Lilley at shortstop and freshman A.J. Pollock at third base.

Dressman will start at center field, with freshmen Billy Boockford, Michael Wright and Brayden Ashdown rotating into the other two spots.

“We’ll be playing a lot of guys [in the corner outfield] this season,” Schrage said.

Schrage said he isn’t as concerned with wins and losses from his young team this weekend as he is with getting into the swing of the season.

“I’ll never tell my team, ‘we have to win today,'” he said. “I just tell them to execute the things that we work on and, if we do that, we’ll win.”