Jags baseball opens fall practice

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MOBILE, Ala. – The University of South Alabama baseball team opened fall practice Monday at Stanky Field.

The Jaguars worked in the newly-renovated Luis Gonzalez Indoor Hitting Facility in its first day of fall drills due to rain. South Alabama will complete a full week of practice before it holds its first intrasquad Fri., Oct. 13, at 3:30 p.m.

USA is scheduled to intrasquad every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the fall season, which will conclude with the Red-Blue Series that is scheduled as a three-game set beginning Fri., Nov. 10, at 3:30 p.m.

The Jaguars return eight position starters from last year's team that won the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and qualified for the NCAA Hattiesburg (Miss.) Regional.

"We're obviously excited about the fall starting," USA head coach Mark Calvi said. "We're starting later again this year, which we have done the last two years. It seems to be the trend; there are a lot of programs starting late the last few years. It's been good for us. It has really been good from a strength and conditioning standpoint. I liked it last year that we had very few muscle strains, aches and pains. I thought our guys were much more physically prepared for a five-week fall season than they would be had we jumped into it at the end of September like some schools do it. I think that extra three weeks really matters from a strength standpoint, guys making some adjustments and settling in and being comfortable in their own skin. With that being said, it can get a little monotonous too so I think we are starting at the right time. Our guys are excited about starting the fall. We have a lot of returners, so you have to watch against complacency. It's not like there aren't positions up for grabs; there are positions to win. There are some guys who have been in the program who maybe haven't played as much that are now stepping into roles where they could be starters this year, so there is a lot at stake.

"We have a lot of new pitchers. We also have some older guys with a lot of professional interest, so there is a lot to work for this fall. In the fall, you get together as a team and it's just a brief snapshot of what you want to be like in the spring. You do some team things – intrasquads, we don't just have them go out there and throw the bats and balls out and go play. We see who can do what for us; we see who can help us. We try to get a lot of work done, and I try to learn as much as I can about these players. You can only learn so much by playing intrasquads. You really learn about your team when you play against other teams and you lose a few games. But the moving parts understand what we like to do; we have a lot of guys back who are familiar with the way we do things around here. We're excited about it for sure. Hopefully the weather will change soon and start to get a little cooler. This is a fun time of year. Our guys are really looking forward to getting out on the field and getting after it. We have a lot of depth on the mound, so we can roll out there and go seven or eight innings of intrasquad each day without extending anyone past two innings right now. We had a lot of guys who went away this summer and played ball and got a lot of at-bats in, and they are amped up and ready to start."

South Alabama will hold its first intrasquad of the fall on Fri., Oct. 13, at 3:30 p.m. The Jags are scheduled to then intrasquad on Sat., Oct. 14, at 11 a.m., followed by Sunday's intrasquad game which is scheduled for a 2 p.m. first pitch.