ASU baseball opens season vs. Bethune-Cookman

Sophomore pitcher Darin Gillies turns off his right foot and lands on his left as he delivers a pitch in the ASU alumni game on Feb. 9. Gillies is set to pitch on Sunday Feb. 17 against Bethune-Cookman. (Photo by Molly J. Smith)

Sophomore pitcher Darin Gillies turns off his right foot and lands on his left as he delivers a pitch in the ASU alumni game on Feb. 9. Gillies is set to pitch on Sunday Feb. 17 against Bethune-Cookman. (Photo by Molly J. Smith)

Junior pitcher Trevor Williams has waited 264 days for the 2013 ASU baseball season to begin.

He will finally get the opportunity to toe the mound again when the Sun Devils open their campaign against Bethune-Cookman on Friday.

“We are all sick and tired of throwing against the same colored jerseys,” Williams said. “We know it’s a process, and you have to do what you have to do to prepare yourself for the season, (but) we are ready for it.”

Coach Tim Esmay is also ready to see his squad in action.

“By this time of year, I hope they feel that way,” he said. “We’ve played enough games against each other to know that we are prepared.”

Esmay said the intensity in Saturday’s Alumni Game, which was not too competitive, is a good indication of where the Sun Devils will be come Friday night.

“You could see it Saturday at the Alumni Game,” he said. “There was a different energy. Even though it was the alums, it was a different team. We want to see where we are at facing a different team in a different dugout.”

The Wildcats, the new team in the other dugout, are tasked with facing Williams who is making his first Friday night start.

“It’s exciting,” Williams said. “It’s something I’ve worked my entire career at ASU to get to. I know guys prior who have been Friday night starters, and I know they set a good path for me to follow.”

The Wildcats are seven-time defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champions, and Williams knows they will be very difficult to get out at the plate. Bethune-Cookman are historically very good at drawing walks and getting hit by pitches.

“We have to continue to pound the zone and make them swing the bat,” he said. “I mean, if they are just going to sit and look at three pitches, then they will strike out. We just have to attack the zone and let them get themselves out.”

Esmay agrees the pitching staff needs to command the strike zone and stick to their gameplan.

“They have a lot of new guys in the program, so part of that is still an unknown,” he said. “The way they traditionally play, they are going to play hard, make you play defense (and) run the bases.”

Esmay has a good sense of what the Sun Devils will see from the Wildcats. He knows there are still unknowns and is looking past Bethune-Cookman’s road play (14-17 last season), because it is opening weekend.

“To be honest, it’s a new season, so all those things from last year are thrown out the window,” he said. “Playing on the road isn’t as easy as opening at home, but once the first pitch happens, the ball can still bounce one way or another.”

After Williams, sophomores Adam McCreery and Darin Gillies will start Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Esmay said he still expects to see the full pitching arsenal in action this weekend.

The Sun Devils are 42-11-1 all-time in season openers and 3-0 under Esmay.

 

Reach the reporter at dsshapi1@asu.edu