High expectations: Kent State baseball prepares for 2020 season

Nick Pedone Sports reporter

Kent State’s baseball team has packed its bags and successfully arrived in Florida, beyond eager to start the 2020 season.

Last season, the team finished 30-24 overall and had an impressive 17-8 record in the Mid-American Conference. Kent State has been predicted by MAC coaches to win this year’s conference tournament title.

Coach Jeff Duncan continually refers to his team as an “athletic” team with the potential to be very dominant on the mound.

The Flashes will be entering their 2020 campaign with an abundance of talent and depth throughout their entire roster. They will return sophomore outfielder Justin Kirby, who was awarded MAC Freshman of the Year last season. The Flashes will also bring back redshirt junior outfielder Ben Carew and junior catcher Michael Turner, who were both selected to First Team All-MAC last season.

Turner was recently ranked the No. 26 catcher in the United States, according to Duncan.

Junior pitcher Collin Romel, an All-American his freshman year, will be on the mound for the Flashes on Saturday. Sophomore pitcher Luke Albright, the No. 1 prospect coming out of Cleveland Collegiate League, will also be back in uniform for Kent State this weekend.

Last season, the Flashes lost three pitchers early in the year and got off to a slow start, losing seven of their first 10 games. However, they were able to win 16 out of their final 20 games to finish off the season.

“We had to learn and grow and I feel like that has seasoned us for this upcoming year,” Duncan said. 

This year, the team is looking to carry over some positive momentum from the end of last season. They will be opening their season in Port Charlotte, Florida, for games against the University of Iowa, Indiana State and Saint Joseph’s University. 

After that, they will travel to Coral Gables, Florida, to play the University of Miami Hurricanes before heading to Fort Myers for a three-game series with Florida Gulf Coast University.

It’ll be quite some time until the Flashes return home to play at their home stadium in Kent. Their home opener is March 20 against Valparaiso University at Olga Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium. Duncan said his team is prepped for these long weeks on the road, and if injury strikes because of their rigorous schedule, he is confident in the entire roster.

“We have more depth than we did last year,” Duncan said. “If we do get unhealthy, I think we can withstand it.”

The Flashes will begin competition within their conference starting March 27 with a three-game series against Northern Illinois University. Then, on April 1, they play against the rival University of Akron Zips. 

“It’s an exciting team to watch and there’s a lot of energy,” Duncan said of his 2020 lineup. “They’ve got a lot of personality and they’ve worked really hard.”

Nick Pedone is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected]