By Michael Wolfgang
The Youngstown State University baseball team opens the 2020 campaign Friday Feb. 14, at 7:30 p.m. taking on the University of Houston.
The Penguins are hoping to improve upon their 13-41 record from last season. The team features 17 returning letter winners and 13 newcomers.
Coming off a 13-win season in 2019, Penguins coach Dan Bertolini is excited about the new opportunity in 2020.
“I just want us to play hard and to compete every single day,” Bertolini said. “We just got to stay focused on the day. If you look ahead, you can miss out on some opportunities today.”
Bertolini is entering his fourth season as the head coach of the YSU baseball program.
Junior outfielder Jeff Wehler is fresh off a season in which he stole 30 bases and posted a .290 batting average. When it comes to personal goals for this season, Wehler said he wants to play the game he’s always played and help the team win this season.
“My bat path at the top of the strike zone was one of my weaknesses last year, and I’ve really worked on hitting at the top of the zone,” Wehler said.
Right-handed pitcher Bryce Warwick is a freshman from Canton, Ohio. Warwick threw an eight-inning complete game shutout in a sectional tournament as a sophomore and was ranked the 60th overall prospect in the state by Prep Baseball Report. He also sported a 2.44 ERA, a 5-2 record and was named Honorable Mention All-Federal League and Pitcher of the Year for Perry High School as a freshman.
Warwick said he’s made some adjustments from playing high school baseball to playing in college.
“Definitely the competition,” he said. “In high school there might have been a few guys here and there that could hit off of you, but everyone here are Division I prospects.”
Collegiate Baseball Newspaper highlighted Wehler, senior infielder Blaze Glenn and senior pitcher Collin Floyd as top players to watch in the Horizon League for 2020.
The Penguins begin the season by playing the first of their 13 regular season games on the road. Bertolini said it’s a good opportunity for the players to learn a little about themselves.
“It is a challenge playing on the road, but we know that going in and there’s no excuses,” Bertolini said.
YSU opens at Houston, then makes stops at the College of Charleston, Abilene Christian University, the University of Pittsburgh and North Carolina Central University before returning to Eastwood Field for the home opener against Bowling Green State University on March 10 at 5 p.m.