NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Belmont University baseball team is set to make its 2021 debut on Tuesday at Rose Park, facing North Alabama at 4 p.m.
Despite the 2020 season being cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bruins recorded one of the best starts in program history. Belmont finished the 2020 season with a 14-3 record, winning its final eight games of the year. Belmont has also received votes in the 2021 Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Preseason Poll.
"(The start of the season) is always exciting," head coach Dave Jarvis said. "It gives you a little bit of that feeling when you were a young boy again when you were starting to play those first games of the spring. With COVID, this year has its own set of complications and its own set of problems that we'll have to address. What happens between the foul lines is probably going to be looking very similar to any other year."
The Lions finished with a 3-13 record in 2020, but handed the Bruins its final loss of the 2020 season with 1-0 no-hitter on Feb. 25 in Florence, Ala. North Alabama has bested Belmont 13-2-1, with the Bruins' last victory over UNA coming during the 1997 season when they were a member of the NAIA. This will be North Alabama's opening game of the 2021 season.
North Alabama is led by Reid Homan, who led the Lions in batting average with a .258 mark in addition to five RBIs in 2020. Kevin Brenning adds additional hitting power, hitting .232 with four RBIs last season. Freshman Will Haberstock will be on the mound for the Lions, a true freshman Roswell, Georgia.
"North Alabama and their coaching staff does a good job. They are going to bring all of the challenges that opening day brings," Jarvis said. "North Alabama is somebody that is in a really good conference, does a good job as a coaching staff and they are going to be coming in hungry tomorrow.
Junior Jackson Campbell was named a Preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper in addition to being ranked 28th in D1Baseball's Top 30 Preseason Catcher Rankings. Campbell and Logan Jarvis were also named to the Bobby Bragan Collegiate Sluggers Award Watch List.
Kyle Brennan was named a NCBWA Preseason All-American and ranked 27th in D1Baseball's Preseason Top 50 Relief Pitchers list. Joshua South was ranked 123rd in D1Baseball's Preseason Top 150 Starting Pitchers list in addition to being named a top 20 prospect in the OVC for the MLB Draft with Logan Bowen.
"There's no sense in ignoring (the preseason accolades). The kids know what's going on," Jarvis said. "What happens on the outside of the fences isn't as much of a factor as to what happens on the inside of the fences. The accolades are nice and I'm happy for our players, both as a team and some of the individual recognition our players have gotten. Ultimately, none of that really means a whole lot of anything once we get to playing the competition."
First pitch is set for 4 p.m. on Tuesday at Rose Park. No fans will be permitted in the grandstands for Tuesday's game, but live stats and an online radio broadcast will be available.