EUREKA, Ill. -- The much-anticipated Jerry Rashid coaching era of Eureka College baseball begins Sunday when the Red Devils begin the 2018 campaign with a pair of non-conference games at the neutral site of Lenz Field in Jacksonville, Ill. Eureka will open the season on the artifical surface at 1 p.m. against Lawrence and follow with a 4 p.m. bout against Elmhurst.
Notebook: Jerry Rashid Era Begins Sunday in Jacksonville
Posted: Mar 01, 2018
Six players that made at least 72 plate appearances and 17 letterwinners overall return from last season for the Red Devils this spring.
Senior Ray Vogel is back after an All-St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference campaign in 2017 in which he made 34 starts between first base, the corner outfield positiions and designated hitter. He hit .346/.445/.607 in 128 plate appearances primarily out of the cleanup slot. Vogel, who also earned all-conference honors for the EC football team last fall after helping the Red Devils to their first league title since 1995, hit seven home runs, drove in 26 runs and scored 20 times a year ago.
Junior catcher Grant Mullin returns for the Red Devils. The Chicago native hit .280 with nine doubles and a home run in 28 starts primarily behind the plate. Sophomore outfielder Braxten Ary also returns after a freshman season in which he hit .277 and shared the team lead with six stolen bases. Jake Carter, a sophomore from Carlinville, Ill., is back in the fold after a debut season that included a .374 on-base percentage over 32 starts, 24 of which came from the top of the EC lineup.
EXPERIENCE ON THE MOUND
Five pitchers that threw at least 18.0 innings return for EC. Senior left-hander Isaiah Taylor will serve as ace of the Eureka pitching staff after loggin 37.2 innings over eight starts last spring. He struck out 25 hitters, completed 6.0 innings four times and limited opponents to three earned runs or less in five of his eight starts.
The duo of sophomores Kyle Cashdollar and Brandon Porter returns as EC's most experienced relief pitchers. Porter threw 19.1 innings over 10 appearances and Cashdollar added 18.1 innings of work.
JERRY! JERRY! JERRY!
Sunday is scheduled to mark Jerry Rashid's debut as head coach of the Red Devils.. The Peoria native and Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer was named head coach at a July 21, 2017 news conference at the Reagan Athletic Complex.
Perhaps the most decorated and successful head coach in the history of high school baseball in central Illinois, Rashid closed his career on the prep scene with 807 victories between Illinois Valley Central (2005-17), Peoria Notre Dame (1989-04) Bergan (1986-88) and Princeville (1979-85). He currently ranks sixth all-time on the Illinois High School Association coaching wins list.
Rashid led three of his IVC squads (2006, 2008, 2010) to the IHSA state semifinals, including two appearances in the state title game. His 2006 IVC team, led by third-round Major League Baseball Draft pick and current Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Zach McAllister, went 40-2 on its way to the IHSA Class A championship. Including McAllister, six of Rashid's former student-athletes at IVC went on to be selected in the MLB Draft.
PRESEASON SLIAC POLL
Eureka was voted to finish fifth in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference West Division, according to an announcement from the league office in late January.
In the West, Webster received seven of 10 first-place votes to be the overwhelming preseason favorite. Fontbonne was voted second, followed by Westminster, Iowa Wesleyan and Eureka. Greenville got eight first-place votes in the East, followed by Spalding with the remaining two votes to be picked second. MacMurray was third, Blackburn was fourth and Principia was fifth.
Eureka will play a three-game series against its four West Division foes and a doubleheader against the five East Division opponents for a total of 22 conference games. The top two teams in each division will qualify for the league's annual double-elimination tournament scheduled for May 10-12 at Robert E. Smith Field in Greenville, Ill.
VS. LAWRENCE (Sunday, 1 p.m.)
Eureka will open the 2018 campaign Sunday in a 1 p.m. non-conference matchup with Lawrence. The Red Devils will be in search of their second consecutive season-opening victory after clubbing Rust (Miss.) 27-1 to begin last season. Eureka has opened the season 1-0 just twice since the turn of the century.
LU is scheduled to play Blackburn and Loras at Lenz Field on Saturday before Sunday's tilt with EC. The Vikings opened their season last weekend by dropping two out of three contests to SLIAC member Iowa Wesleyan in Jacksonville, Ill., including a wild 26-24 IWU victory on Sunday in which the two squads combined for 50 hits and nine errors. A fourth game scheduled between the two teams was rained out on Saturday.
A member of the Midwest Conference, Lawrence went 5-29-1 last season and a 1-15-1 in conference action to finish last in the league's North Division. LU was again picked for the basement of the North Division in 2018 according to a Feb. 23 preseason poll conducted by MWC coaches.
Sunday's game marks the first meeting on record between Eureka and Lawrence. The Red Devils are a combined 9-31 against current members of the Midwest Conference since 2000, most recently dropping a home-and-home series to Knox last spring.
VS. ELMHURST (Sunday, 4 p.m.)
The Red Devils will play Elmhurst for the first time since 2015 in Sunday's 4 p.m. matchup in Jacksonville.
The Blue Jays are scheduled to open the 2018 campaign Saturday in Jacksonville with back-to-back games against SLIAC members Blackburn and MacMurray. Elmhurst will take on Loras at 1 p.m. Sunday before playing Eureka at 4 p.m., the Blue Jays' fourth neutral-site game at Lenz Field in two days.
Elmhurst went 21-18 last season and 12-11 in College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin action. Joel Southern, a 1994 graduate of Augustana (Ill.), is in his 12th season as head coach.
Eureka and Elmhurst have met seven times since the 2003 season. The Red Devils won the previous matchup, an 11-7 decision at Henry Sand Field on April 1, 2015. The Blue Jays have won the other six bouts, including four consecutive neutral-site games during the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Eureka owns a 4-12 records against CCIW schools since 2000, including victories over Augustana (2001), Illinois Wesleyan (2002) and Millikin (2013).