It’s hard to believe it with snow still falling in much of the country, but this Friday kicks off the Air Force baseball’s 56 game season for a weekend in Baton Rouge.
Air Force comes into 2019 following a 12-17 record in the Mountain West and a 24-30 season overall in 2018.
Despite the underwhelming record from last year, the Falcons have a talented team, including the preseason All-American, senior first baseman Nic Ready, the winner of the 2018 collegiate home run derby. Rob Dau, who boasted a .350 batting average last season is also returning for his senior year as well as the senior pitcher Tyler Mortenson, who struck out 54 batters in 68.1 innings in 2018.
Air Force will be playing a difficult slate of games early on in the season. Air Force Academy baseball alumnus and head coach Mike Kazlausky acknowledged the tough schedule saying, “Our 2019 schedule is the toughest schedule to date, as 10 of our first 22 games will be against teams that qualified for the NCAA Regionals last year.”
The Falcons will open up their season against West Point, but the weekend is a full schedule, with Louisiana Monroe on Saturday, LSU on Sunday, and Southern University on Monday. Air Force has faced LSU for several past seasons, thanks in part to the Falcons’ relationship with the LSU head coach, Paul Mainieri, who coached Mike Kazlausky during his time as Air Force’s coach from 1989 to 1994.
Air Force will take on other tough out of conference opponents this year, including Nebraska, Kansas, and East Carolina. They play Navy as well in a three game series in the annual Freedom Classic in Kinston, North Carolina.
It will be interesting to see how Air Force fares against such a tough slate of teams. They have had flashes of brilliance, especially in terms of personnel. In 2016, the Minnesota Twins drafted Air Force’s pitcher, Griffin Jax, in the third round with a $645,600 signing bonus.
Air Force plays Army on Friday, February 15th at 1:00 PM at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.