Baseball springs into action

When baseball comes around, you know that winter is nearing an end. Around Northern Kentucky, it looks like winter has just started, but Norse baseball is preparing to get back into full swing.

The Northern Kentucky University Baseball Team is expected to win the Great Lakes Valley Conference this season and seize the fourth title in the past six seasons.

NKU won the GLVC title last year while posting a 42-20-1 record, and look to repeat as champions this season, behind the leadership of senior left-handed pitcher Josh Bruns.

Bruns, who posted an 8-2 record with a 2.86 earned run average as a junior, was named to the Rawlings/American Baseball Coaches Association NCAA Division II preseason All-America Team.

Norse Head Coach Todd Asalon looks for a better season for Bruns this year. “I feel that Josh will have better numbers this year,” Asalon said. “After last season, pitching after having surgery, he should be able to pitch healthy this year. Plus he knows the league more this year, and that will help.”

He struck out 64 batters and walked 11 in 78 and 2/3 innings pitched in 2006, while holding opponents to a measly .236 batting average.

Senior right-hander Matt Marksbury, selected to All-GLVC second team, looks to put up numbers similar to last year, when he went 6-3, with a 2.06 ERA. He threw two shutouts during the season and looks to solidify the Norse pitching staff.

2006 GLVC Coach of the Year Asalon has some speed returning this year with senior shortstop Kory Lonergan. Last year, he led NKU with 40 runs scored. Lonergan hit the ball well, batting .292 with 10 doubles and 23 stolen bases.

Asalon will look to his seniors to provide leadership. “You have to always look to your seniors for leadership,” he said. “Josh Bruns, Matt Marksbury, and Brian Beltz in our pitching rotation will give us good outings and provide us with leadership for our younger pitchers. I also look to shortstop Kory Lonergan and outfielder Matt Wagers to provide good defense on the field.”

There are some incoming freshmen who are in for some quality playing time this season, such as catcher Tyler Schunk. “Schunk will be getting some playing time at the catcher position, and look for him to be an impact player on our team this season,” Asalon said. “Also look for left-handed pitcher Kevin Jordan from Lousiville, Ky. to get some innings on the mound.”

The Norse will start the season with a three-game series at Delta State University, opening with a double-header Feb. 17.