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February 15, 2013Charlotte, N.C. - After a rough 2012 campaign, the Charlotte 49ers are looking to start 2013 on a solid note against a team that had a great 2012 season.
After posting back-to-back 40 win seasons, the 49ers went 21-32 in 2012 - 9-14 in Atlantic 10 play - which was their worst record since joining the league in 2006.
They will start the season with a four game series against the Delaware State Hornets today at 4p.m. at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium.
The Hornets went 40-17-1 in 2012.
Junior Tyler Barnette gets the nod for the 49ers on the mound Friday. Though he struggled last year (4.20 ERA, 3-3 record), it's no secret just how important it is that he and the rest of the staff pitches well this year.
After a 2012 season filled with key injuries, Head Coach Loren Hibbs is confident that his team has done a good job preparing for the upcoming season and that they are taking steps in the right direction.
"I think we've prepared the right way," said Hibbs. "I just don't know if it's going to equate to high level performance yet."
With that he also added the importance of hard work and practice. "I think that we all understand that we start playing games on Friday but practice today is important. Everyday that we get a chance to be out there is important."
Going into this first series, the 49ers have a lot to be excited about. The team has compiled an exceptional opening day record. Under Hibbs, the 49ers have posted a 14-6 mark in season-openers, with a 7-1 record over the last eight years.
Another thing for the 49ers to be excited about is the return of a couple of key players; Corey Roberts, Shane Basen, John Hamilton, Brett Lang, Patric King (both returning freshmen) and Justin Roland are just a few rounding out the list.
In addition to the returning players, the 49ers have a few new additions to the team: junior college transfers in Grant Dunnegan and Desmond Roberts; along with freshmen Matt Creech, Sean Geoghegan, Jared Mathis, Weston Smith, Nicholas Daddio, Nate Traugh, Micah Wells and Kory Shumate.
Even with a large list of young players, the 49ers have the experience to make an impact. On the team, nine players return who started in over half of the games last year with six pitchers who pitched in 20 or more innings.
This season is a fresh start for the 49ers and a chance to leave the Atlantic 10 conference on top, just like they've done in previous years. This series is an important building block for the rest of the season.