Gophers travel to Fort Myers to open season

Minnesota will face Akron for the first time in the history of both programs.

by Aleutian Calabay

The start of any baseball season faces many unanswered questions. Lineups need to be set, rotations need to be filled and roles need to be defined. The 2010 Gophers baseball team looks to start finding answers this weekend as they open the season with a three-game series against Akron in Fort Myers, Fla. âÄúThis is the start of trying to learn a lot about our team,âÄù Minnesota head coach John Anderson said. âÄúWeâÄôre going to pitch a lot of people because weâÄôre on pitch counts right now, and weâÄôre going to have the chance to evaluate a lot of players over the next three weeks.âÄù The Gophers are returning 20 players from last seasonâÄôs team, which finished with a solid 40-19 record, placing second in the Big Ten behind Ohio State. Minnesota played well into the playoffs, beating Southern 11-8 and Baylor 15-12 before losing 10-3 to eventual champion LSU in the NCAA regionals. With a multitude of returning players, the Gophers have high expectations for this season. Collegiate Baseball magazine has Minnesota ranked No. 30 in this yearâÄôs preseason poll, and Baseball America picked the Gophers to finish second in the Big Ten, again behind Ohio State. Minnesta also had four players selected for the preseason All-Big Ten team, including outfielder Michael Kvasnicka , shortstop AJ Pettersen , reliever Scott Matyas and starter Seth Rosin. Of course, very little of that matters once Minnesota actually takes the field. âÄúI think weâÄôre more excited than rusty or nervous,âÄù junior Seth Rosin said. âÄúWeâÄôve been practicing for a month now and I think weâÄôre just ready to go.âÄù FridayâÄôs matchup will be the first-ever meeting Minnesota will have against an Akron team that finished last season with a 19-33 record, but returned 22 letterwinners from last season. Despite having never played the Zips before, Minnesota has had success in the past against the Mid-America conference, with a total record of 42-12. Even with success against the MAC, Minnesota remains committed to taking nothing for granted against Akron. âÄúThey [Akron] are more of a hitting team than a pitching team,âÄù Rosin said. âÄúWe [the pitchers] are going to just get at them one batter at a time and get our 27 outs each game.âÄù The Gophers âÄî despite having very little knowledge about Akron âÄî remain more focused on the things they can control. They hope they can simply head down to Florida and take care of business while progressing as a team. âÄúMy expectations are that weâÄôre able to execute the fundamentals,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúCatch the ball, throw the ball and throw strikes and try to make some contact; thatâÄôs our goal here.âÄù