HANOVER, Ind. - After dealing with several weeks of cold, wet days, the Hanover baseball team will look for better weather as the Panthers head to Florida for their annual winter break trip to open the 2018 season. The first games of the trip will take place Sunday, Feb. 25, with the final games scheduled for Friday, March 2.
OPPONENTS: Augustana (Ill.), Capital (Ohio), Lyndon St. (Vt.), Milwaukee School of Engineeering (Wis.) and Mount Union (Ohio)
OPENING WEEK: Hanover will have a busy first week as the Panthers are scheduled to play seven games against five different teams over six days. The week will also prove to be a good test as those five teams combined for a 121-86 (.585) record in 2017, including four teams that finish at .500 or better. Hanover's first and last two games of the trip will be played against a pair of teams that won 30 and 31 games respectively in Augustana (Ill.) and Mount Union (Ohio). Lyndon State was 22-20, last year. MSOE finished 21-21, while Capital ended the 2017 season 17-20 overall.
LAST YEAR'S TRIP: The Panthers made a shortened trip to Florida a year ago and only played five games over four days, but it was a successful one. Hanover went 4-1 and capped the week with a 10-8 win over Alma. The Panthers trailed 8-0 after the first inning of that game, but scored 10 unanswered runs to defeat the Scots and end the trip on a high note.
SEASON-OPENERS: In the last six season-opening games Hanover has gone 4-2, including a 6-2 win over Finlandia (Mich.) last year. This season will also mark the second time since 2015 that the Panthers have opened their season against Augustana (Ill.). The two teams met in Hanover's first game in 2015 with the Panthers rallying from a 4-0 first-inning deficit to win 18-7.
FAMILIAR TEAMS: While the Panthers did not play any of the teams on this year's trip last year, Hanover has played four of this year's five opponents in previous years. The Panthers have played MSOE eight times since the 2011 season and are 3-5 against the Raiders. In four games against Lyndon State in that time, Hanover is 4-0. Augustana has won two of the three meeting between the teams, while Capital has won both meetings in Florida since 2011.
KEY RETURNERS: Head Coach Shayne Stock returns two all-conference performers from last year's team along with six starters in the field, and the team's top pitcher from a year ago. Senior infielder Jack Shine (New Albany, Ind.) and junior catcher Tyler Fitch (Crestwood, Ky.) were each named to the all-HCAC team in 2017. Shine led the team in hits (52), home runs (5), triples (2), average (.356) and slugging (.541), while Fitch was fourth on the team with 42 hits and third with 22 RBI as the team's primary backstop. Junior pitcher David Herrmann (Fishers, Ind.) ranked among the top three in the conference in innings pitched (81.1), earned run average (2.43), complete games (four) and starts (12).
ON DECK: After completing its season-opening trip south, Hanover will next travel to Danville, Ky. to play Centre (Ky.) Wednesday, March 7. The game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at Gary Wright Field.
Contact: Mike Pritchard