Baseball kicks off 2020 season against Tennessee Volunteers

John Bell, Courier Staff

Knoxville, Tenn. — The second weekend in February. The universal starting weekend for college baseball.

With MLB pitchers and catchers reporting earlier this week, the future big leaguers begin their collegiate seasons this weekend. The Western Illinois University baseball team is traveling to Knoxville. this weekend to take on the Tennessee Volunteers of the Southeastern Conference.

The first pitch will be at 3:30 p.m. today (Feb. 14) from Lindsey Nelson Stadium and the game will be aired live on the Watch ESPN app and the SEC Network.

The Leathernecks are under new management as first year head coach Andy Pascoe has taken over the reins as the seventh head coach in the program’s history. Pascoe joined the Leathernecks after serving as Butler University’s assistant coach for the past three seasons. Pascoe also spent time at his alma mater Evansville and as a scouting director for prep baseball in Michigan.

With the meeting between the Volunteers and Leathernecks this weekend, it will be the first such meeting between the two universities. Western is not shy of the powerhouse conference of the SEC, as the Necks have faced off with opponents 46 times from the conference, owning a 6-40 record. The last win for the Leathernecks against an SEC opponent was former head coach Ryan Brownlee’s first win in Purple and Gold as Western took down the No. 1 ranked Arkansas in the 2013 series finale.

The Leathernecks are coming off a strong 2019 campaign in which they collected 22 wins, tying the most wins in a single season in the past 12 years. Seniors Drue Galassi and Javin Drake return for the Leathernecks as preseason players to watch, as released by The Summit League.

Drake can become the programs all time strikeout leader with 35 strikeouts in the 2020 campaign. After setting the Leathernecks single season record with 109 last season. Galassi is returning for his fifth season in Purple and Gold after redshirting due to medical reasons in 2016. Galassi returned to the field in 2017, earning collegiate baseball’s greatest honor, Freshman All-American.

With a new coaching staff and a talented group of players, the future looks bright for the Leathernecks as they head to Knoxville to open up the 2020 season against one of the best baseball schools in the nation.