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Baseball prepares for 2011

After coming off back-to-back .500 seasons, the Belmont Bruins baseball program is looking for a fresh start in a new setting. The team opened the season last weekend against Illinois State at their temporary home field in Shelby Park, but the Bruins are scheduled to move to the new Rose Park complex by the beginning of March.

The Bruins finished last season 22-9 at Shelby Park, the best home record of any Atlantic Sun team.

Belmont is hoping that same success will carry over to Rose Park—and much of that success will depend on a core group of senior leaders. Nate Woods, a senior outfielder and pitcher, garnered attention from professional scouts last season, but decided to finish out his career at Belmont.

“I’m honestly surprised that he came back and didn’t enter the Major League Draft,” head coach Dave Jarvis said. “We’re blessed to have him back along with seven other seniors.”

Woods was named a Third Team Pre-Season All-American by Collegiate Baseball newspaper and Louisville Slugger. Last year, he batted a .319 average, hit 20 home runs, and led the team with 78 RBIs.

Senior pitcher Jon Ivie and junior outfielder Dylan Craig joined Woods on the Atlantic Sun Preseason All-Conference team.

The Bruins will meet some tough non-conference competition this season. Belmont travels down the street to nationally ranked Vanderbilt before a three-game series against Mississippi State in Starksville. The Bruins also play at Tennessee and will host Purdue.

As for conference play, Jarvis believes the Atlantic Sun will be solid.

“The A-Sun is a very good baseball conference, very competitive,” Jarvis said.

Florida Gulf-Coast ended last season ranked as the No. 42 team in the country and is favored to repeat as Atlantic Sun regular season champion.

Belmont opens the conference season March 4-6 with a home series against Mercer, the reigning Atlantic Sun tournament champion.

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