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Max Resnik

Baseball dead coach Rick Jones addressed the media to previewthe Green Wave’s upcoming season Feb. 10. He touched on theshortcomings of last season, but was optimistic for 2012. Thisseason, Tulane baseball is not getting the same kind of hype thatsurrounded the team a year ago.

“This is the kind of club that can fly under the radar,” Jonessaid.

Last year, Tulane held a No. 25 preseason ranking following astrong 2010 season. The team had a wealth of raw talent in the formof young and inexperienced freshmen. The former newcomers now havea year under their belts and the addition of stud southpaw, RandyLeBlanc, who chose Tulane over the Florida Marlins. After threestarts, LeBlanc injured his shoulder, which required season-endingTommy John surgery. A good portion of the pitching staff was notfar behind on the injury list, and after a strong 17-4 start, theWave finished at 31-26 and missed postseason play.

The majority of the team is returning from last season, however,providing a huge advantage in terms of experience and teamchemistry. Two important starters from last season, Robby Broachand Conrad Flynn, are no longer at Tulane. A healthy LeBlanc, whosays he is “100 percent” on all of his pitches, will help filltheir roles. In addition, junior Alex Byo and sophomore KyleMcKenzie are now fully healthy.

Despite suffering injuries, Tulane’s pitching and defense weremuch stronger the Wave’s bats. Prior to last season, there was alot of buzz about new bat regulations, which restricted thedistance and power at which balls are put in play. Jones said aslong as the Wave is defensively sound and does not allow runs earlyin games, he will utilize a “small-ball” strategy, includingsacrifices and stolen bases. Because of its quality pitching staff,Tulane won’t need to put up gaudy offensive numbers from game togame.

One of the few big bats, Jeremy Schaffer, said he was proud tobe one of team’s few seniors and that he expects to embrace aleadership role. Schaffer was among the 2011 team leaders in almostevery offensive category, and nothing less should be expected forthis season. He envisions himself right in the middle of the lineupon opening weekend, most likely playing first base. Schaffer is acatcher by trade but has seen time all over the playing fieldbecause Jones wants to avoid putting him in a designated hitterrole.

Jones defined the team as “poised and ready,” while Schaffer andLeBlanc said that the lack of a preseason ranking motivates theentire team.

The season starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Turchin Stadium againstSiena. The opening series continues with a doubleheader starting at1 p.m. Saturday and the finale Sunday at noon.