SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The start of the Sacramento State baseball season is just one week away, when the Hornets open a four-game series against Washington State next Friday night at 6 p.m. The Hornets face another challenging non-conference schedule, facing two Pac-12 teams and two Big Ten teams with three of those four series to be played at John Smith Field. Sacramento State plays 31 home games with 21 night games in the first full season under the lights on campus. Seventh-year head coach Reggie Christiansen talked about the upcoming year:
What are the strengths of the team and what will its success be built upon?
We believe our rotation of Justin Dillon, Max Karnos and Austin Roberts is a strength. Defensively we are very athletic. Offensively we have a very mature group that is also more balanced than we have had the past few years, with more left handed hitters that will factor in our lineup especially against right handed pitching.
With 20 returners and 16 newcomers how has the team come together leading up to the season?
This group came together very quickly in the fall. We have a great group of student-athletes that are like-minded and love competing with each other.
How important is it for the team to have success against two Pac-12 teams and two Big Ten teams in the non-conference season?
We look forward to putting together a schedule every year that will prepare our team for the opportunity to play in an NCAA regional. This year's home non-conference schedule is the best since I have been at Sacramento State. I believe our fans will enjoy watching us compete against those three Power 5 schools at home (Washington State, Penn State, and Minnesota).
One of the greatest players in program history, Tim Wheeler, is back as a coach. What do he and the rest of the coaching staff bring to the team?
It has been great to have Tim back on campus. He has a very bright mind and is passionate about the game and our program. Our staff has done a really good job in helping our players prepare for the season. From Bryan Francis with strength and conditioning, Coach Angier with the pitchers, Tim and Tommy Nicholson with the hitters, I feel this team is very prepared thanks to our coaches efforts.
How excited are you and the team for 31 home games with 21 under the lights?
I know our players are really looking forward to seeing John Smith Field full under the lights. It should be an exciting atmosphere for our players and our fans.
With 22 juniors and seniors, how important are those upperclassmen in leading the team?
I believe that experience is important. If you look at the teams in college baseball that play deep into the post season often times those teams have juniors and seniors on the field. I believe we have an experienced and mature group this year that are prepared to put us in position to play in a regional.