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2015 Central Michigan Chippewas Baseball Season Preview

Who needs to rebuild? Head coach Steve Jaksa looks to lead a youthful roster to a MAC Championship, despite the loss of two of their best rotation starters.

Nick Deeg looks to make a name for himself with Jordan Foley and Pat Kamiska gone.
Nick Deeg looks to make a name for himself with Jordan Foley and Pat Kamiska gone.
CMU Athletics

Author's note: We realize this season preview is coming late, but we were unable to contact Coach Jaksa for an interview until after their series vs. Florida Gulf Coast. Those results are reflected in the scheduling table at the end of the article. Thank you for reading.

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The 2014 Central Michigan Chippewas had a solid season, finishing 35-23 overall (19-8 MAC) but finished 2nd in the conference to the Ball State Cardinals, and were eliminated early in the MAC Tournament by Miami. For a team that has the winningest record in the Midwest since 1972, 35 wins is considered "not the goal" in Mt. Pleasant, especially with a team that has the goal of becoming "a national team."  Head coach Steve Jaksa hopes to lead a young team to many more victories in the coming season, but has to first figure out how to make the roster work the way he wants it to. Coach Jaksa has high aspirations for this year's team, stating that "the goal is always to win the conference; it's what we play for." Coach Jaksa also said the team "must put our best foot forward" within the first 20 games before the conference season.

There are many questions to be asked in regards to how the bullpen and rotation will sort itself out in terms of roles, especially with the departure of most of the starting rotation and their closer, as well as how the players will develop on the defensive side of the ball, but Coach Jaksa was insistent that there are good pieces in place on the roster as it currently stands right now, with plenty of room for improvement.

Central Michigan has been slated by media to finish 2nd in the MAC West behind Ball State this season, which is a clear indication that media believes that Central Michigan can reload. The Chippewas will rely on intelligence and speed on the basepaths to spark the offense and help out a bullpen that needs time to development.

KEY DEPARTURES:

Jordan Foley (SP) -- 5th Round MLB selection, New York Yankees

While it was a down year record wise, Foley enjoyed great numbers last season, with a 6-5 record and a 3.69 ERA as the ace, starting 15 times with two complete games. Foley led the team in strike outs (81) while posting the second lowest opponent batting average out of all the starters (.273) and only allowing 23 extra base hits. Foley was also a leader, and his presence could be missed, especially as the team this season is a lot younger than in years past.

Matt Trowbridge (RP) -- 13th Round MLB secection, Baltimore Orioles

Not to be forgotten is Matt Trowbridge, who as a relief pitcher and emergency starter, also posted some very great numbers. Trowbridge allowed only 17 hits in 31 innings pitched and had 5 saves on the season, the most on the team. Opponents also hit a paltry .165 against Trowbridge, making him invaluable in the bullpen.

Pat Kamiska (SP) -- Graduation

Kamiska had a stellar season, and helped keep the Chippewas afloat, as he finished 8-3 in 14 starts and one relief appearance. Kamiska picked up where Foley left off, providing that second punch in the starting rotation. Kamiska actually had the lowest opponent batting average out of all the starters, posting a .239 last season, while pitching 94.2 innings and allowing less XBH's than ace Foley (19).

KEY RETURNERS

Pat MacKenzie (INF)

MacKenzie, a redshirt senior, is in his fourth year of starting, and will help man an infield that had major fielding problems last season. MacKenzie had the third highest fielding percentage on the team (.982) and was also a consistent hitter, batting .271 and getting 42 runs on 51 hits.

Nick Reginer (OF)

Nick Reginer, a senior, was an offensive workhorse, posting the fifth-highest RBI total (28) third-highest in hits (67) first in runs scored (50) and stolen bases (35, caught only twice.) Reginer was also one of two players (Ryan Heeke) to have a perfect fielding percentage starting every game.

Tim Black (CL)

Black will be the new closer heading into the season, and looking at the numbers, it is easy to see why. Black gave up only five XBH in 21 appearances, striking out 26 batters in 28.1 innings of work, all while posting an ERA of 1.91 (4th lowest on the team.)

Nick Deeg (SP)

Deeg will be seeing a lot more time as a starter, with 3/5ths of the rotation missing, and his development could very well be key. Deeg posted a 4.08 ERA and a 5-4 record over 14 starts with 1 complete game in 82.1 innings last season, which is solid for a third or fourth option. Deeg has a bit of a problem hitting batters (hit 11 last season,) but hopefully that will fix itself with experience.

Central Michigan is in a good position to attain success this season, but will have to figure out what works and what does not between now and the end of the Indiana State Invitational in order to compete for a 13th MAC Championship.

Here is the schedule and results for the entire season:

Date Opponent Location Result/Time
2/13/2015 at FGCU Fort Myers, FL W 2-0
2/14/2015 at FGCU L 6-4
2/14/2015 at FGCU W, 7-6 (12)
2/15/2015 at FGCU W 5-2
2/20/2015 at Stetson DeLand, FL 6:30 PM
2/21/2015 at Stetson (DH) 3:00 PM
2/22/2015 at Stetson 12:00 PM
2/27/2015 at Texas State San Marcos, TX 4:00 PM
2/28/2015 at Texas State (DH) 2:00 PM
3/1/2015 at Texas State 12:00 PM
3/6/2015 at Wichita State Wichita, KS 4:00 PM
3/7/2015 at Wichita State 3:00 PM
3/8/2015 at Wichita State 2:00 PM
3/10/2015 at Kansas Lawrence, KS 4:00 PM

Indiana State Invitational
Date Opponent Location Time
3/12/2015 at Indiana State Terre Hautte, IN 3:00 PM
3/13/2015 vs. Rutgers 12:00 PM
3/14/2015 vs. Canisus 3:00 PM
3/15/2015 vs. Rutgers 12:00 PM

Date Opponent Location Time
3/18/2015 at Notre Dame South Bend, IN 6:05 PM
3/20/2015 vs. Ohio Mt. Pleasant, MI 3:05 PM
3/21/2015 vs. Ohio 2:05 PM
3/22/2015 vs. Ohio 1:05 PM
3/24/2015 at Michigan State East Lansing, MI 3:05 PM
3/27/2015 at Miami Oxford, OH 6:00 PM
3/28/2015 at Miami 2:00 PM
3/29/2015 at Miami 1:00 PM
4/1/2015 at Michigan Ann Arbor, Mich. 4:05 PM
4/3/2015 at Toledo Toledo, Ohio 3:00 PM
4/4/2015 at Toledo 1:00 PM
4/5/2015 at Toledo 1:00 PM
4/8/2015 vs. Oakland Mount Pleasant, Mich. 3:05 PM
4/10/2015 vs. Eastern Michigan 3:05 PM
4/11/2015 vs. Eastern Michigan 2:05 PM
4/12/2015 vs. Eastern Michigan 1:05 PM
4/15/2015 vs. Michigan State Detroit, MI 7:05 PM
4/17/2015 at Buffalo Buffalo, N.Y. 3:00 PM
4/18/2015 at Buffalo 1:00 PM
4/19/2015 at Buffalo 1:00 PM
4/22/2015 vs. Northwood Mount Pleasant, Mich. 4:05 PM
4/24/2015 vs. Bowling Green 3:05 PM
4/25/2015 vs. Bowling Green 2:05 PM
4/26/2015 vs. Bowling Green 1:05 PM
4/29/2015 at Oakland Rochester, Mich. 3:05 PM
5/1/2015 vs. NIU Mount Pleasant, Mich. 3:05 PM
5/2/2015 vs. NIU 2:05 PM
5/3/2015 vs. NIU 1:05 PM
5/6/2015 vs. Michigan 4:05 PM
5/8/2015 at Ball State Muncie, Ind. 3:00 PM
5/9/2015 at Ball State 1:00 PM
5/10/2015 at Ball State 1:00 PM
5/12/2015 vs. Michigan State Mount Pleasant, Mich. 3:05 PM
5/14/2015 at Western Michigan Kalamazoo, Mich. 3:00 PM
5/15/2015 at Western Michigan 1:00 PM
5/16/2015 at Western Michigan 1:00 PM